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

Perugia Altarpiece (in modern frame)

1447-48
Tempera and gold on panel
Galleria Nazionale dell'Umbria, Perugia

The picture shows the Perugia Altarpiece in a modern, early twentieth-century frame. The left and centre predella panels are copies of originals now in the Pinacoteca, Vatican.

The altarpiece is one of Angelico's most beautiful paintings. Until recently it was believed that its patron was Benedetto Guidalotti (1388-1429), archbishop of Recanati. New research, however, indicates instead that his sister Elisabetta (died 1460) may have been responsible for the project. Prominently located in the transept of San Domenico, the triptych conveyed the devotion of the Guidalotti to the Virgin and the saints worshipped in the church. The diverse saints on the pilasters, almost all bearing books, reflect the commitment to scholarship by the Order that shared by the Guidalotti.

The triptych was completely dismembered nearly two centuries ago, when its frame was destroyed, the panels cut apart and the predella dispersed.