Saturday, February 17, 2007

Fra Angelico's Feast Day

is tomorrow. Beatified in 1984, Fra Angelico was a Dominican brother first and an artist second. Faithful to his vocation, Fra Angelico painted numerous depictions of Our Lady and the saints.

There is even a self portrait:

Probably best known for his Annunciation:

But a sentimental favorite with me is the stoning of St. Stephen:

Though no art historian, when I see this picture it reminds me that the Christian response to adversity is prayer, to turn away from evil, and to preparing for the eventuality of martyrdom when it presents itself. St. Stephen is show in green and gold foretelling the fruitfulness of his martyrdom.

An anecdote that I heard about Fra Angelico is that when he was painting the scene of the Last Supper in the dining hall of his monastery he was said to be taking a long, long time. His superior was annoyed with him and urged him to hasten and be finished. Fra Angelico responded by threatening to replace the face of Judas with that of his Superior if the pressure to hurry did not cease. I have no idea if he carried it out.

The painting may have looked something like this:

You can read more about the life of Fra Angelico here and here.

I was reminded of this special feast day by a real life Art Historian who lives (where else ?) but in Florence, Italy. You can read her blog here, if you read Italian but happily art transgresses all language barriers.

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