Purple Passion of Fra Angelico

Purple Passion of Fra Angelico

Florence (Italy) — Mid 15th century

Created for the Medici, preserved today in two museums on two continents: masterly miniatures of the Dominican monk Fra Angelico on purple parchment

  1. The Passion of the Dominican monk Fra Angelico (ca. 1395–1455) was painted with fine strokes of white and orange ink on purple parchment

  2. The great Renaissance artist created it for the Silver Cabinet in Florence at the behest of Piero de Medici (1416–1469)

  3. The 9 full-page miniatures of the manuscript are now kept in two museums on two continents and show beautifully and vividly modeled figures

Purple Passion of Fra Angelico

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
Purple Passion of Fra Angelico

Originating from one of the greatest artists of the Italian Quattrocento, this treasure contains nine miniature pages of the Passion of Christ. The small format, similar to that of a book of hours, illustrates the private character of small books as a medium to a more personal immersion into the suffering of Christ. Drafted on purple parchment by Fra Angelico, a Dominican monk from Florence and an important artist of his time, the important scenes of the Passion are depicted with fine ink strokes and wonderful modeling in white and orange on the bright purple parchment. The Purple Passion offers an immediate glimpse into the finishing-process of illumination, and is also connected with the Medici family.

Purple Passion of Fra Angelico

Originating from one of the greatest artists of the Italian Quattrocento, this treasure contains nine miniature pages of the Passion of Christ. The small format, similar to that of a book of hours, illustrates the private character of small books as a medium to a more personal immersion into the suffering of Christ. Drafted on purple parchment by Fra Angelico, a Dominican monk from Florence and an important artist of his time, the important scenes of the Passion are depicted with fine ink strokes and wonderful modeling in white and orange on the bright purple parchment. The Purple Passion offers an immediate glimpse into the finishing-process of illumination, and is also connected with the Medici family.

The Medici Connection

Through research it has been speculated that the pictures of the Purple Passion of Fra Angelico are also templates and first draft designs for the famous Armadio degli Argenti in the church of Santissima. Fra Angelico finished the images for the Silver Cabinet of the meaningful church in Florence at the behest of Piero de Medici (1416–1469) in the year 1451 or so. 41 scenes of the life of Christ are depicted in light, bright colors in the typical style of Florentine artists. The drawings of the Purple Passion are dated to the middle of the 15th century, suggesting a further connection to the art.

Drawings of the Highest Quality

The book is in the format of 10 x 8 cm and contains 24 pages with 8 wonderful whole-page miniatures. These depict scenes from the Passion of Christ, from the Last Supper to the Christ’s arrest, up to the Crucifixion. Also, surrounded by the fine frames, the drawings impress with their striking and simultaneously surprisingly simple composition. The figures are especially well worked through, with finely modelled lines that are skillfully and cautiously individualized. What’s more, the scenes have a lot of movement. Fra Angelico worked into his art his exatrordinary ways, managing to communication everything important with few means. Therein lies the special quality of the miniatures of the Purple Passion. The special, valuable material of purple parchment with its extremely intense color carried with weigh with the appearance of the depictions.

The Outstanding Florentine Artist of Religious Subjects

The Florentine artist of the drawings, the well-known Fra Angelico (1395–1455), was a monk of the Dominican Order and was also a celebrated painter. He finished contracts above all for important clerical patrons, like Churches and Cloisters. His pictorial themes are mainly religious, known especially for his altar pictures. The importance of Fra Angelico is today is due to the fact that he was said to be blessed. The nine pages of the Purple Passion were up until 1927 bound together in a small album, but were later divided due to the request of a collector. Today they are still divided between two museums on two different continents. In this wonderful treasure, with the Coat of Arms of the Medici on the binding, these two pieces of written proof of the grandiose art of Fra Angelico are reunited.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Pasionario Púrpura de Fra Angelico
Purpurnes Passionsbuch von Fra Angelico
Passionnaire Pourpre de Fra Angelico
Passionario Porpora di Fra Angelico
Passionário Púrpura de Fra Angelico
Purpurne Passion von Fra Angelico
Size / Format
24 pages / 10.0 × 8.0 cm
Origin
Italy
Date
Mid 15th century
Illustrations
9 full-page miniatures
Artist / School

Available facsimile editions:
Purple Passion of Fra Angelico – Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge MA, USA) / Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (Rotterdam, Netherlands)
Patrimonio Ediciones – Valencia, 2007
Limited Edition: 999 copies
Detail Picture

Purple Passion of Fra Angelico

Jesus Washing the Disciples’ Feet

Delicate strokes of white and orange ink wonderfully bring this scene to life, which is one of the more memorable acts of humility to be found in the Gospels – Jesus washing the feet of the disciples. “For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” (Jn. 13:15-17)

Pasionario Púrpura de Fra Angelico
Single Page

Purple Passion of Fra Angelico

Pietà

An archetypal scene of the Virgin Mary cradling the dead body of Jesus is referred to by art historians as a Pietà, Italian for “pity” or “compassion”. This Pietà is depicted in the direct aftermath of the Crucifixion and portrays Christ’s followers gathered at the base of the cross. Some lay hands on the body, others pray on their knees, while others stand to the side and talk amongst themselves.

Presented on purple parchment within a simple silver frame, it is a refined composition consisting of delicate brush strokes of white ink. This stripped-down style of illumination provides unmitigated insight into the creative process of Fra Angelico, one of the most important artists of the 15th century. It is a unique masterpiece!

Pasionario Púrpura de Fra Angelico
Facsimile Editions

#1 Pasionario Púrpura de Fra Angelico

Patrimonio Ediciones – Valencia, 2007
Purple Passion of Fra Angelico – Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge MA, USA) / Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (Rotterdam, Netherlands)
Purple Passion of Fra Angelico – Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge MA, USA) / Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen (Rotterdam, Netherlands) Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Publisher: Patrimonio Ediciones – Valencia, 2007
Limited Edition: 999 copies
Binding: Velvet over wooden boards with coat-of-arms of the Medici family in silver
Commentary: 1 volume (42 pages) by Miklos Boskovits
Languages: Spanish, English, German
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
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