Friday, May 18, 2018

Museum Review: Art for the Soul in ‘Fra Angelico: Heaven on Earth’

By Holland Cotter
“The Dormition and Assumption of the Virgin,” (1424-1434), the centerpiece of the exhibition “Fra Angelico: Heaven on Earth,” at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston. Credit Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
BOSTON — The most beautiful Italian Renaissance painting in the United States, “The Dormition and Assumption of the Virgin” by Fra Angelico, is on full-time view but hard to find. Since 1903, the small picture has been in the same spot in the Early Italian Room of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum here, though invisible when you enter the room. It hangs around a corner of a big, jutting-out fireplace. Unless you happened to wander over to a nearby window and glance to your left, you’d miss it. Close looking is precisely what this exquisite show encourages. It’s details that keep you looking: faces of saints as particular as high school yearbook portraits; Christ’s Passion as a stop-motion video scoured by grief and rich with Tuscan color; guiding stars that beam in the sky but also on Mary’s robe. [More]