Fra Angelico: Heaven on Earth
In 1899, Isabella Stewart Gardner acquired the first Fra Angelico painting in America. The exhibition Heaven on Earth at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum reunites for the first time the founder's magnificent Assumption and Dormition of the Virgin with its three companions from the Museo di San Marco, Florence. Conceived as a set of jewel-like reliquaries between 1424 and 1434 for one of the most important churches in Florence, they tell the story of the Virgin Mary’s life. This lecture explores how a Dominican friar in Renaissance Florence transformed the history of western art with breathtaking paintings of peerless originality. Immerse yourself in the material splendor of his craftsmanship and enjoy a behind-the-scenes look at the preparations for this exhibition.
Renaissance master Fra Angelico (c. 1400-1455) transformed the history of western art with his breathtaking paintings. Heaven on Earth reunites for the first time the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum’s magnificent Assumption and Dormition of the Virgin with its three companions from the Museo di San Marco, Florence. Conceived as a set of jewel-like reliquaries for one of the most important churches in Florence, they tell the story of the Virgin Mary’s life. Brought together with unprecedented loans from Italy and the United States, the exhibition invites you to explore Fra Angelico’s ground-breaking narrative art, marvel at his peerless creativity and immerse yourself in the material splendor of his craftsmanship.
This lecture will take you behind the scenes in the preparation for this exhibition, into the conservation laboratory where all four reliquaries were recently conserved and reveal some of the important discoveries made along the way. It will also unfold the fascinating history of Mrs. Gardner's Assumption and Dormition of the Virgin, a landmark in the history of American collecting as the first Fra Angelico painting to come to the United States.
The John Hubbard Sturgis Eaton Lecture is sponsored by Isabelle and Scott Black in honor of Isabelle’s late father.
Nathaniel Silver is associate curator of the collection at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. His current exhibition Fra Angelico: Heaven on Earth reunites the painter's four reliquaries made for the church of Santa Maria Novella and explores the painter's approaches to sacred tales. Recently in Boston, he co-organized Ornament and Illusion: Carlo Crivelli of Venice and Beyond Words: Italian Renaissance Books which won the "Outstanding Exhibition" award from the AAMC. His past exhibitions include Piero della Francesca in America at The Frick Collection in New York.
Are you interested in learning more about Early Italian Renaissance artists similar to Fra Angelico, Fra Filippo Lippi, or Davide Ghirlandaio? Stop by Lower Pilgrim to check out the Boston Athenæum’s impressive collection of art books and periodicals for further reading!
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