Fra Angelico Biography


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Fra Angelico was born in 1395 in the town of Rupecanina, Italy. He was named Guido di Pietro. In 1417 when he was 22 Angelico joined a religious confraternity at the Carmine Church, he was already known as an artist and had worked on Santo Stefano del Ponte. It wasnt until 1423 that records show him taking orders as a friar, this was when he was first refered to as Fra Giovanni this was following the custom of those entering a religious order to take a new name. On becoming a friar he recieved training to become an illuminator (a person who decorates the beautiful books of that period, carried out by monks and friars).

From 1408 to 1418 he painted a number of frescoes in the Dominican friary of Cortona, unfortunately these have not survived, then between 1418 and 1436 he was at the convent of Fiesole, while there he painted a number of frescoes and an altarpiece some of these have deteriorated so much they needed restoration work. In 1436 he moved to the Frisry of San Marco, which brought him to the notice of Cosimo de Medici. Cosimo owned a cell in the San Marco friary for him to retreat to from the world outside, he urged Fra Angelico to decorate the monastery. And it was here that he created some of his most famous works, including the chapter house fresco and the aspects of Christs life that decorate the cells.

By the time 1445 arrived pope Eugenius IV summoned Angelico to the Vatican to paint the frescoes of the Chapel of the Holy Sacrament at St Peter's, (subsequently demolished by Pope Paul III)then in 1447 he designed the frescoes for the Niccoline Chapel for Nicholas V. And in 1449 he was made prior of his old convent of Fiesole. He died in Rome in 1455.

He was made a saint in 1982 by Pope John Paul II and he is the patron saint of artists

To this day although several illuminations remain that are attributed to Fra angelico he is better known for his religious paintings. Vasari wrote of him in the lives of the artists that he painted with facilty and piety.

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