Monday, 15 October 2012

Madonna of Mercy with Kneeling Friars

I'm usually not one for the big religious medieval scriptures as they don't show much in the way of fashion of the time usually, however, today this caught my eye:

It caught my eye because of it's vibrancy and it's use of the fish to for the letter S.  This piece is called Madonna of Mercy with Kneeling Friars.  It was created around 1424 by a chap named Fra Angelico (the Angelic Brother), who also went by the name Fra Giovanni da Fiesole (Brother John of Fiesole).  He was born in the Italian town of Fiesole and by the age of 13 he was already in the Dominican Friary of Cortona, painting frescoes which have all now been destroyed.  He did this piece when he was 29ish, having studied illuminations from a really, really young age.  This piece is an illumination from Messale 558 -- a book of hymns for Mass that also contained the liturggies for the feast days of several saints.

Another page from this book shows the glorification of St. Dominic:

This is straight from wikipedia, so if you want a bigger picture (where you can even see the grain of the parchement), check it out here.  This is a page from the book which even has musical notation.  My favourite though has to be this one, which is simply called Blessed angelic annunciation:

It's my favourite one from the set I've seen online simply because of the scrollwork inside of the R.  That's a lot of work, a lot of patience, a lot of hours and a lot of talent. 

There's a set of four of his images from this book available at, which are all really high res and worth a look if you like illuminations.  I can't help but wonder how long it took him to put it all together though, even though the evidence shows that he had an assistant.  I should still think it took some time!

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