(b. ca. 1400, Vicchio nell Mugello, d. 1455, Roma)
Perugia Altarpiece (left panel)1447-48
Tempera and gold on panel, 95 x 73 cm
Galleria Nazionale dell'Umbria, Perugia
St Dominic and St Nicholas of Bari stand to the Virgin's right. They lack the sculptural monumentality of the saints in the Linaiuoli altarpiece, are lit in a softer and more diffuse manner, and are not made to stand in a darkened niche. Here, for the first time Angelico breaks away from the convention of the abstract, all-surrounding gold, and places the figures in front of a long table, whose end can be seen behind St Nicholas of Bari who has placed his mitre on it. This is not, however, so great a departure from convention as might be implied, as the table is covered with a golden cloth and beyond it is the usual gold background.
The two figures stand at the very front of the space created, St Dominic's foot and St Nicholas's vestments touching the edge of the step. St Nicholas wears his bishop's cope and supports his crook, while at his feet are three full leather bags. These refer to the most popular legend concerning this fourth-century churchman. He reputedly tossed bags of gold through the open window of a house, providing the three women who lived within with dowries and thus saving them from turning to prostitution. The event is shown, with two other scenes from the saint's life, in one of the predella panels from the altarpiece.