(b. ca. 1400, Vicchio nell Mugello, d. 1455, Roma)

Transfiguration (Cell 6)

Fresco, 181 x 152 cm
Convento di San Marco, Florence

This is the fresco on the wall of Cell 6 of the Convento di San Marco in Florence.

In this fresco Christ stands on a rock, prefiguring his rising from the tomb. His arms are outstretched and in this He also foreshadows his own crucifixion. He is voluminously clad in a sculptural mass of glowing white robe, and encircling Him is a radiant white mandorla. His forward gaze does not directly engage the eye of the spectator. At the base of the rock three of the Apostles crouch in awed positions, but they maintain the curious contemplative detachment from the drama of the scene which is the hallmark of this fresco cycle.

At the edge of the fresco, on either side, stand the Virgin and St Dominic in positions indicative of prayer, stern and unresponsive to events around them. The heads of Moses and Elias appear beneath the arms of Christ; they are introduced as detached symbols to aid meditation. There is no attempt to create any more than the bare essentials of picture space; this particular spur to devotion required no more. For Angelico, too elaborate a spatial framework as much as excessive use of colour, decoration, or narrative, could detract from the picture's power.