Fra Angelico

Heaven on Earth

Fra Angelico transformed painting in Florence with his pioneering images. Reuniting for the first time his four ingenious reliquaries for Santa Maria Novella, this publication explores his celebrated talents as a storyteller and the artistic contributions that shaped a new ideal of painting.
Date Published :
February 2018
Publisher :
Paul Holberton Publishing
Editor :
Nathaniel Silver
Illustration :
125 full color illustrations
No associated books available.


Accompanying the exhibition at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, this catalog explores one of the most important artists of the Renaissance. Fra Angelico (c. 1395–1455) transformed painting in Florence with pioneering images, rethinking popular compositions and investing traditional Christian subjects with new meaning. His altarpieces and frescoes set new standards for quality and ingenuity, contributing to Angelico’s unparalleled fame on the Italian peninsula. With the intellect of a Dominican theologian, the technical facility of Florence’s finest craftsmen and the business acumen of its shrewdest merchants, he shaped the future of painting in Italy and beyond.

The exhibition reunites for the first time Fra Angelico’s four reliquaries for Santa Maria Novella (1424-34; Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and Museo di San Marco, Florence). Together they cover key episodes in the life of the Virgin Mary and capture in miniature some of his most important compositional innovations. Assembled at the Gardner with exceptional examples of Angelico’s narrative paintings from collections in Europe and the United States, this exhibition explores his celebrated talents as a storyteller and the artistic contributions that shaped a new ideal of painting in Florence.

About The Author

Associate Curator of the Collection, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Nathaniel Silver organized Piero della Francesca in America at the Frick, and at the Gardne he co-curated Ornament and Illusion: Carlo Crivelli of Venice and Beyond Words: Italian Renaissance Books, recently awarded a prize for “outstanding exhibition” by the AAMC.


"A small gem"

- The Wall Street Journal

"There are many reasons to be dazzled by [Fra Angelico: Heaven on Earth], among them the painter’s jaw-dropping, luxuriant color, his innovative compositions, and his wondrous precision."

- Boston Globe

“Invites you to explore Fra Angelico's ground-breaking narrative art, marvel at his peerless creativity, and immerse yourself in the material splendor of his craftsmanship.”


"A scholarly but accessible and thought-provoking exercise ... a taut and concentrated study of the painter, focusing on the reliquaries, but also examining broader issues concerning the artist and Dominican patronage. It is full of significant, and often new, information, including important technical analysis." 

- Apollo Magazine

"Superb catalogue ... Not only is Fra Angelico shown to be one of the greatest of masters, as one would expect, but also an inspired experimenter, unpredictable, gifted with a broad feel for subject and form, and consummately charming at every turn."

- New Criterion, May 2018

"In the past thirteen years at least seven exhibitions on Fra Angelico have been mounted in cities in Europe and America. None, in this reviewer’s opinion, has been as beautiful, as moving, as informative and as thoughtfully organised as Fra Angelico: Heaven on Earth."

- Burlington Magazine, May 2018

"Illuminating essays ... gorgeous reproductions ... a wonderful book for Italian Renaissance art enthusiasts."

- Publishers Weekly, April 2018

"Dream of a show … illuminates an overlooked aspect of an artist we may think we know well: his skill, not just as gentle icon-maker but as a dramatist, a spinner of sharply observed narratives."

- New York Times, May 2018

“A small but important exhibition … beautifully produced book”

- The Art Newspaper, September 2018

"A dazzling presentation [and] a rare glimpse into the museum's contribution to conservation and restoration ... academics will welcome historical perspectives on liturgical objects while attendees will recall the radiant reproductions of bright gold divine accents of saintly narratives ... [a] handsome catalog."

- Library Journal, October 2018

More from this publisher