The Masterful Beauty of Fra Angelico’s Paintings

Today is the feast of the saint and famous artist Fra Angelico. His real name was Fra (that is, Brother) Giovanni, but his works of art were so beautiful that he went down in history by his nickname, Fra Angelico, “Brother Angel” or “Brother Angelic.” Below is a portrait of him, but what people most remember about Fra Angelico, of course, is not his painted face but the faces he painted. 

Here is probably Fra Angelico’s most famous painting, the Annunciation, commemorating the moment in Luke 1 where the Archangel Gabriel told Mary she was to be Mother of the Messiah and, after Mary accepted, God became man in her womb. Fra Angelico painted it before 1445 for the Dominican Monastery of San Marco in Florence.

To notice just a few points about this painting—firstly, the face of God the Father appears between the building’s arches, while the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove travels down a beam of light that points toward the Blessed Virgin’s stomach, indicating that the Son of God is becoming flesh in her womb. The painting thus has the mystery of the Trinity, three persons in one God, at the center of it. Secondly, while the Virgin Mary bows her humble obedience to God, the Angel Gabriel also bows to Mary. Gabriel’s almost reverent salutation to Mary is unique in the Bible, where angels usually command authoritatively and frequently strike fear into the hearers. Fra Angelico also painted Adam and Eve being expelled from Paradise (in Genesis 3)—Original Sin was committed by them and they thus brought sin into the world, but, through Mary the new Eve, the Messiah Jesus (the new Adam) will come into the world to save humanity from sin.

Fra Angelico was undoubtedly one of the greatest artists in history, and his paintings are sources of endless wonder, awe, and admiration!

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Posted by CatSalgado32

Catherine Salgado is a columnist for The Rogue Review, a Writer for MRC Free Speech America, and writes her own Substack, Pro Deo et Libertate. She received the Andrew Breitbart MVP award for August 2021 from The Rogue Review for her journalism.

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