The Works of Fra Angelico – Dance of the Angels, from The Last Judgment

Dance of the Angels, from The Last Judgment, by Fra AngelicoIn Fra Angelico’s ‘Last Judgment,’ of which the detail known as ‘Paradise,’ or ‘The Dance of the Angels,’ is here reproduced, Christ is represented seated on high surrounded by cherubim and seraphim. Saints and apostles are on either side, and in the center below is a cemetery with open graves, on one side of which are the figures of the damned whom devils thrust down to hell, and beyond, the seven circles of Dante’s ‘Inferno.’ On the other side of the graves throng the blessed, welcomed by angels who lead them towards the heavenly city. Here in a green and flower-strewn meadow, illumined by a celestial light which streams from the open portals of Paradise, the ‘Dance of the Angels’ takes place.

“The garments of these blessed beings glisten with innumerable golden stars;” writes Padre Marchese, “their heads are wreathed with garlands of red and white roses, and a brilliant flame burns on the forehead of each. Light, airy, graceful, and, even while dancing, absorbed in ecstatic contemplation, they advance toward the celestial city caroling and singing, and the nearer they approach the more ethereal and luminous do their bodies become, until at last, arrived at the holy gates, they are transformed into most subtle and resplendent spirits, and, two by two, holding each other’s hands, enter into eternal bliss.”

‘The Last Judgment,’ an early work painted by Fra Angelico for the Convent of Santa Maria degli Angeli, is now in the Florence Academy.