The Works of Fra Angelico – The Madonna of Perugia

The Madonna of Perugia, by Fra AngelicoThis picture, the central panel of a great altar-piece in many parts which was painted for the Church of San Domenico at Perugia, is now in the Pinacoteca, or picture-gallery of that city. It was probably painted between 1433 and 1437, during Fra Angelico’s sojourn at Fiesole – a transition period in his career when he began to be affected by the great art movement of his time, to emancipate himself by degrees from the cramping influence of the miniaturists, and to acquire greater freedom of style.

In the ‘Madonna of Perugia’ he shows not only a fuller understanding of the human form than in his earlier works, but a truer conception of the relation that exists between mother and child. The Madonna, seated under a Renaissance canopy, looks with tender and motherly solicitude upon her Son, who, no longer the stiff, doll-like little figure of early Italian art, but “a real child, with rounded limbs and sweet infantile expression,” stands upon his mother’s lap and leans against her arm. He holds a pomegranate in one hand and raises the other in blessing. The two graceful angels on each side of the throne hold baskets full of red and white roses.