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


Chapel of San Brizio, Duomo, Orvieto

In the summer of 1447 Fra Angelico, assisted by Benozzo Gozzoli and several other minor artists, had painted a fresco of the Prophets in one of the triangular ceiling vaults and Christ the Judge in another in the Chapel of San Brizio, a large Gothic construction built around 1408 in the Orvieto Cathedral. The remaining sections of the ceiling were painted by Luca Signorelli in 1499-1502.

In the quadrant adjacent to that show wing Christ the Judge, Angelico portrayed Old Testament prophets whose writings, it was believed, foretold the coming of Christ. Like Christ, they are painted against a golden ground and suspended on clouds, their garments radiant with the reflected light of his glory. Angelico varied their ages, appearance and attributes, conveying the personality of each man, from the introspective King David, fingering his harp as he composes his psalms, to Moses, his face and azure mantle glowing with the light of God. The tablets held by Moses are inscribed with the first of the Ten Commandments in Hebrew.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.