Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Fra Angelico Heaven on Earth

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

February 22 - May 20, 2018

About the Exhibition

Renaissance master Fra Angelico (about 1395–1455) transformed Western art with pioneering images, rethinking popular compositions and investing traditional Christian subjects with new meaning. His altarpieces and frescoes set new standards for quality and ingenuity, securing his place in history. With the intellect of a Dominican theologian, the technical facility of Florence’s finest craftsmen and the business acumen of its shrewdest merchants, he forged the future of painting in Italy and beyond.

The exhibition reunites for the first time Fra Angelico’s four reliquaries for Santa Maria Novella (1424-34; Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and Museo di San Marco, Florence). Together they cover key episodes in the life of the Virgin Mary and capture in miniature some of his most important compositional innovations. Assembled at the Gardner with exceptional examples of Angelico’s narrative paintings from collections in Europe and the United States, Heaven on Earth explores his celebrated talents as a storyteller and the artistic contributions that shaped a new ideal of painting in Florence.

Heaven on Earth reunites the Gardner's magnificent

Fra Angelico (Italian, about 1400-1455), The Dormition and Assumption of the Virgin, 1424-1434. Tempera with oil glazes and gold on panel, 85.7 x 45.1 cm (33 3/4 x 17 3/4 in.)
Fra Angelico (Italian, about 1400-1455), The Dormition and Assumption of the Virgin, 1424-1434. Tempera with oil glazes and gold on panel, 85.7 x 45.1 cm (33 3/4 x 17 3/4 in.)

Assumption and Dormition of the Virgin, acquired by Isabella in 1899 and the first Fra Angelico to reach the United States,

 with its three companions from the Museo di San Marco, Florence: –

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The Annunciation and Adoration of the Magi, 


The Coronation of the Virgin,

Madonna della Stella, 1434, by Fra Angelico (1395 -1455).  Museo di San Marco, Florence, Italy,  Tempera on panel, 51 x 84 cm,

and The Madonna della Stella – reside in Florence. Newly restored to their Renaissance splendor thanks to a special collaboration with the Museo di San Marco, the reliquaries reveal Angelico’s mastery of materials and genius for narrative composition.

Unprecedented loans for this exhibition include the three extraordinary reliquaries (Museo di San Marco, Florence)

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a magnificent altarpiece of Paradise (Gallerie degli Uffizi, Florence)

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and the jewel-like Corsini Triptych (Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica in Palazzo Corsini, Rome).


Also restored for this exhibition is the altarpiece of The Entombment of Christ (National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.), which is on display to the public for the first time in over 40 years at the Gardner Museum. 

Conceived as a set of jewel-like reliquaries for the Florentine church of Santa Maria Novella, they tell the story of the Virgin Mary's life.

Fra Angelico: Heaven on Earth

Accompanying the exhibition at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, this catalogue explores one of the most important artists of the Renaissance