A rare Crucifixion by Fra Angelico just sold, last July 6, for about 6.4 million dollars to an unknown buyer during an auction held at Christie’s, thus setting a record price for the Early Renaissance/Late Medieval Dominican Master.
Fra Angelico, born as Guido di Pietro, was an Italian painter of the Early Renaissance period, active during the early Quattrocento – that is, the first half of the 15th century. He is widely regarded as one of the most significant artists of his time and played a pivotal role in the history of art. Renowned for his exceptional skill in religious painting, particularly in frescoes and altarpieces, all his works share a distinctive serene beauty, harmonious composition, and vibrant colors.
What set Fra Angelico apart was his ability to infuse his paintings with a rather human tenderness while conveying a sense of divine presence – a glimpse at his famous Annunciation suffices to prove this case. His works are not only aesthetically pleasing but also emotionally captivating and spiritually compelling, inviting viewers to contemplate the mysteries of faith. His innovative use of color, while still reminding the viewer of typical Byzantine pigments, added a distinctive theological depth to his compositions.
As read in the article published by the National Catholic Register, this Crucifixion “was probably acquired in the early Victorian period by Lord Ashburton at a time of fervent religious revivalism […] But you don’t need to be religious to appreciate the beauty and the raw emotional appeal of this very early work by one of the great pioneers of the Italian Renaissance.”
Fra Angelico was beatified in 1982 by Pope John Paul II.