Dose of Art #62: Fra Angelico – The Forerunners of Christ with Saints and Martyrs(c. 1423-24)

November 1st is the celebration of All Saints. The celebration has a long history but in its current form is founded by Pope Gregory III (731–741) in an oratory in St. Peter’s for the relics “of the holy apostles and of all saints, martyrs, and confessors, of all the just made perfect who are at rest throughout the world”.

This wooden panel is a part of five panels making up the altarpiece of the convent San Domenico at Fiesole (near Florence). The three rows represent the various precursors of Christ, male martyrs (with palms) and female saints. Although we know the altarpiece was made by Fra Angelico’s workshop, it isn’t sure he painted this piece himself as he regularly let others do the actual painting. For altarpieces like this, gold leaves were used. The paint is tempera; a mix of colour pigments with egg yolk. Other than you might expect this is very long lasting. The blue colour was made with the expensive lapis lazuli.