What Fra Angelico's parents were or did is now unknown but from what accounts we have they were well-to-do parents.
While still a young boy he asked for admittance to
the convent of San Domenico in Florence. It was an austere way of life, with the
Dominican friars subscribing to a method of living based on the strictest of doctines, though it wasn't a closed order.. By the age of 13,
he had completed his novitiate in Cortona; ten years later, he was a fully fledged
Dominican monk in Florence. He was then known as
Fra Giovanni da Fiesole.
Little is known about his art training other than before becoming a friar, he had
trained as a manuscript maker and had also trained as an illuminator. And while still a young man,
his art was already famous perhaps because he had the patronage
of Cosimo de' Medici.
His early works included pieces for churches and convents in Florence and in Cortona executed whilst still
a novitiate there. It is also highly probable that his first fresco works were executed there also.
He was in Fiesole from 1418 to 1436 and then in the Dominican convent of S. Marco in Florence until 1445 where
he lived with St. Antoninus Pierozzi. Here, it is documented,
he decorated the cells, the hall of the Chapter,
the corridors, the colonnade, and the church altarpiece.
Pope Eugene IV invited him to Rome in 1445 and appointed another
Dominican friar, a colleague of Angelico, to be archbishop of Florence in 1445. What were the reasons
for this and whether Fra Giovanni was offered the appointment originally is pure speculation but what we do know
is that in 1447 he painted the Vatican the Cappella del Sacramento, demolised lated by
Paul III. That same year, he also went to Orvieto, to paint in the Cappella Nuova of the cathedral.
Three years later, he became Prior of the convent of San Marco and
later Archbishop of Florence. In this period, he returned to Rome
to paint the chapel of Nicholas V, where he died in 1455.
buried in the church of S. Maria sopra Minerva.
In 1982, Fra Angelico was canonized by Pope John Paul II.
Dates of Important Works
- Madonna on a Throne (1428-1430)
- The Naming of St. John the Baptist (1434-1435)
- Christ in Limbo (c.1437-1446)
- Christ Being Nailed to the Cross (c.1437-1446)
- Christ on the Cross between the Two Thieves (c.1437-1446)
- Longinus Piercing Christ's Side with a Lance (c.1437-1446)
- Saint Lawrence receives the treasures of the Church (1447)
- The Flight into Egypt (c.1450)
- Annunciation (c. 1450)