Кат. 38. Фра Анжелико: Распятие со Святым Петром Мучеником и Фомой Аквинским
Кат. 38. Фра Анжелико. Распятие со Святым Петром Мучеником и Фомой Аквинским
19,9 х 12,1 см (7 7/8 х 4 3/4 дюймов)
Among the most interesting recent additions to Fra Angelico scholarship was the publication in 1998 of this previously unknown work.(*1) Its subject may best be described as a mystical vision embodying the two poles of Dominican spirituality: the passionate and the cerebral, or, in a more secular and metaphoric vein, the Dionysian and the Apollonian. The two principal saints of the Dominican order — after the founder himself — Peter Martyr and Thomas Aquinas, kneel in a carefully articulated church interior: specifically, in the crossing of a Brunelleschian or Michelozzan basilica. Rising in front of the apsidal chapel, above the table of the high altar — which is covered in a blue cloth with red fringe — is a life-size crucifix with blood spilling from the wounds in the hands, feet, and side of the crucified Christ. Behind the cross is a black drapery that sets it off dramatically from the gold back wall of the chapel. At the right, Saint Thomas Aquinas kneels in lost profile, presenting a volume of his theological writings to Christ, who replies (in words inscribed in white on the panel): "Bene scripsisti de me Thomma [sic]" ("You have written well of me Thomas").(*2) At the left, Saint Peter Martyr, holding a martyr's palm, kneels in profile, as blood drips from the wounds in his head and shoulder; the message to him from Christ reads, "Petre, et ego quis" ("Peter, I too [suffered] thus").(*3)
In first calling scholarly attention to this panel — intimate in scale and so loose and impressionistic in handling as to blur the distinction between a brush drawing and a finished painting — Luciano Bellosi speculated that it might originally have decorated a painted reliquary or the base of a paschal candlestick such as those described by Vasari as having been executed by Angelico for Santa Maria Novella.(*4) The vertical wood grain and relative thinness (1.2 centimeters) of its panel support suggest, instead, that it is likely to be a fragment of the wing of a triptych. That it has been trimmed in width may be deduced from the glimpses of arches springing to either side of the crossing piers and, at the left, the oblique view of an altar table in the lateral chapel, gratuitously cropped at the edges of the panel. The angle at which the lateral altar table was meant to be seen, as well as the fact that the left wall of the apsidal chapel is visible but not the right wall, may imply that the painting was conceived for the left wing of a triptych, to be viewed off-center and to the rights.(*5) As it is impossible to determine how much the panel has been reduced in width, or whether it was originally enclosed within an engaged frame, it is difficult to estimate the dimensions of the center panel or of the matching wing on the right of this hypothetical triptych. The unique subject of the present panel does imply that the complex must have been devoted to specifically Dominican imagery, and perhaps that its patron was a particularly erudite member of the Dominican order.
One such Dominican triptych painted by Angelico (cat. 21), probably about 1427, is inappropriately large and too early in style to be associated with the present panel, for which Bellosi proposed a date in the early 1430s, not far removed from what he believed to be its compositional model: Masaccio's Trinity fresco in Santa Maria Novella.
Кат. 21. Фра Анжелико. Пармский табернакль, реконструкция
The clarity, precision, and symmetrical balance of the architecture in this panel, as well as the tangible evocation of atmosphere created by its subtle light effects, preclude so early a date, however, and argue instead for placing it significantly later in the artist's career, after he completed the frescoes in the upper corridor at San Marco and possibly as late as the Annunziata Silver Chest of 1448-50. The attenuated figure types and loose, sketchy handling of paint also suggest a dating toward the end of the artist's activity, if perhaps not as late as the Christ on the Cross with the Donor, Cardinal Torquemada, now in the Fogg Art Museum (cat. 39).
Кат. 39. Фра Анжелико. Христос на Кресте, между Богоматерью и Святым Иоанном Евангелистом,
с донатором, кардиналом Торквамеда
No other paintings from this stage in Angelico's development can be identified that might be directly associated with this one, but the fact that the present panel has been known to scholars for less than a decade raises hopes that others like it may soon reappear as well.
(*1). Bellosi and Galli 1998.
(*2). Aria Sanctorum, Mar. I, Dies 7, s.v."S.Thornas Aquinas, Doctor Angelicus Ordinis Praedicatorum," Caput VI, 35.
(*3). Ada Satictorum, Apr. III, Dies 29, s.v."S. Petrus Martyr, Ordinis Praedicatorum," Caput I, 6.
(*4). Vasari (Milanesi ed.) 1878-85, vol. II, p. 513.
(*5). Similar adjustments to perspective in triptychs by Duccio presuppose an angle of opening for the wings rather than their being read as on the same plane as the center panel. If this were the case here, as well, the present panel would have appeared to the right, not the left, of the center panel.