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Fra Angelico a sketch   By: (1860-)

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" Art manifests whatever is most exalted, and it manifests it to all " TAINE





Author of "Sketches of American Authors"





"The art of Angelico, both as a colorist and a draughtsman, is consummate; so perfect and so beautiful that his work may be recognized at a distance by the rainbow play and brilliancy of it: however closely it may be surrounded by other works of the same school, glowing with enamel and gold, Angelico's may be told from them at a glance, like so many huge pieces of opal among common marbles."


"The light of his studio came from Paradise."


"His world is a strange one a world not of hills and fields and flowers and men of flesh and blood, but one where the people are embodied ecstasies, the colors tints from evening clouds or apocalyptic jewels, the scenery a flood of light or a background of illuminated gold. His mystic gardens, where the ransomed souls embrace and dance with angels on the lawns outside the City of the Lamb, are such as were never trodden by the foot of man in any paradise of earth."

"Fra Angelico's Madonnas are beings of unearthly beauty, and words fail to convey any idea of their ineffable loveliness and purity. His angels too are creatures of another sphere, and purer types have never yet been conceived in art. The drawing of the hands of his angels and Madonnas is most exquisite charming in tender yet subtle simplicity of outline."


Copyrighted, 1900, by EDUCATIONAL PUBLISHING Co.

[Illustration: FRA ANGELICO]


1387 1455.

Let us for a few moments turn our attention to a monastery a short distance from Florence. From its elevated position on the hills which skirt the vale of the Arno it commands a panoramic view of the "Lily City." It is the time when the Renaissance is virgin new to the world. Faith was still so real and living a thing that men and women shut themselves up from the world in order to live holy lives and devote themselves entirely to the service of God.

It is a body of such men on the heights of Fiesole that interests us. They are Dominican monks, of the order of great preachers, founded long ago by St. Dominic. Over long white robes the brothers, or frates, as they are called, wear black capes and back from their tonsured heads fall hoods, which protect them in inclement weather. It is a prosperous monastery surrounded by goodly fields. In some, the olive groves blossom in the spring like snow, or wear foliage of richest green as the season advances. In others, the yellowing grain waves in the upland summer breeze. The monks are busy people, many without in the fields tilling the fruitful soil or gathering in the abundant harvest.

Indoors there is the silence which attends toil, intense and absorbing. The cellar and kitchen are in perfect order and in the refectory, or dining room, the table is spread for the next frugal meal. In the scriptorium, or writing room, several monks are busy copying ancient manuscripts on parchment. One does this work, using the most exquisite lettering, while another indites the hymns long loved by the church. This other, bending over his task, from a rich palette makes the vine to run, the dragon to coil, the angel head to shine, the tropic bird to fly from out the lettering of his book or, more ambitious still, he decorates a broad margin with an elaborate design. Mayhap he devotes an entire page to the deliniation of some favorite saint.

"What joy it is to labor so, To see the long tressed angels grow Beneath the cunning of his hand, Vignette and tail piece subtly wrought!"

Here in the walk of the cloisters, his pallid face lit up by fiery eyes, strolls another, the preacher of the monastery. To night he will electrify his audience with the eloquence of his sermon that shall tell of the curse of evil, of the saving power of love... Continue reading book >>

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