A new exhibition of works by Fra Angelico, one of my favourite early Renaissance painters, has recently opened in Rome in one of my favourite spots, the Capitoline Museums. I'm looking forward to seeing this in June!
I realize that I'll have less than 24 hours to spend in Rome. I'll be flying in and out of the city, spending only the late afternoon hours and final night of my holiday there before my morning flight back to Canada. I really love Rome, and have recently enjoyed thinking about how best to spend the very little time that I'll have there. Should I just stroll around, visit my beloved Bernini elephant outside Santa Maria Sopra Minerva and see the church and the nearby Pantheon? Try to squeeze in a late-day visit to the Galleria Borghese? Followed by dinner at Cul de Sac?
Problem solved! I'll stroll over to the Capitoline Hill -- which is always beautiful -- walk up the Cordonata, admire Michelangelo's piazza and then head into the museum complex to see this Fra Angelico exhibition.
According to the Italian news agency ANSA, this show coincides with the 550th anniversary of Fra Angelico's death and includes 49 of his works produced at different stages during his life. The selected works are designed to provide an overview of Fra Angelico's development and highlight his talents as a painter, an illuminator and a draftsman.
Born in 1395 as Giovanni da Fiesole, Fra Angelico became a Dominican friar when he was already an acclaimed artist. The exhibition starts with works from his youth, inspired by the late Gothic period, and continues through to his later years in Rome, where he had been summoned by the pope.
Among the pieces in the show drawn from this final period are his Bosco ai Frati altarpiece, a rich oil painting of Madonna and child (shown in the second photo above.) According to organizers, among the works on public display for the first time is Saint Francis Receiving The Stigmata, a rich tempera painting on loan from the Vatican's collection, and an Annunciation, borrowed from Dresden. A number of his most famous works are also on display, including a dazzling Annunciation, on loan from Florence. It's thought some of his most important works are in Florence, including his most important commission, the San Marco Altarpiece, and the frescos for the convent of San Marco in Florence.
People started calling him 'angelico', meaning blessed, shortly after his death, but he was only beatified in the 1980s, when he was made patron saint of artists.
The exhibition is on in Palazzo dei Caffarelli until July 5.