“Fra Angelico: Heaven on Earth,” at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, is being billed as a reunion. The master painted four reliquaries for Santa Maria Novella in Florence during the second quarter of the Quattrocento. Heroic research executed in conjunction with this exhibition establishes with great conviction that Giorgio Vasari referred to these works in particular in his writings. Napoleonic haranguing of Italian Christendom obliged a de-acquisition in the early 1800s. By 1816, one of them, The Dormition and the Assumption of the Virgin (1424–34), was in the hands of an English rector.

Bernard Berenson, discovering its availability in 1898, unabashedly pleaded with Isabella to buy it: “If you let this one go, you must I fear give up every thought of ever owning a Fra Angelico. So, I beg you for your collection’s sake to take...


A Message from the Editors

Our past successes are owed to our greatest ambassadors: our readers. Our future rests on your support, as The New Criterion Editor Roger Kimball explains. Will you help us continue to bring our incisive review of the arts and culture to the next generation of readers?

Popular Right Now