Fra Angelico: Heaven on Earth

Edited by Nathaniel Silver. Paul Holberton, $45 (250p) ISBN 978-1-911300-39-7
Accompanying an exhibition at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, this catalog combines illuminating essays on the life and art of Italian Renaissance painter Fra Angelico with gorgeous reproductions of his works. The book pays special attention to four reliquaries devoted to the life of the Virgin Mary, one of which was acquired by the museum’s namesake in 1899 and became the first Fra Angelico painting in America. The selection of essays successfully contextualize the artwork in 15th-century Tuscany and describe how Angelico’s involvement in the Dominican Order and his exposure to Sienese art influenced his work. Contributors highlight the artist’s connections to his famous contemporaries, such as the painter Gentile da Fabriano, whose colorful work motivated Angelico to replace his “somber palette” with vibrant colors, and the art theorist Leon Battista Alberti, who drew inspiration from Angelico’s work to craft his important treatise on painting. The detailed exhibition catalog compels readers to scrutinize the featured paintings, observing intriguing details that may be overlooked at a first glance, such as the attributes associated with a group of saints whom Fra Angelico depicts in the predella of one of the reliquaries. This is a wonderful book for Italian Renaissance art enthusiasts. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 04/23/2018
Release date: 04/01/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
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