On the Side of the Angels, part 2: Fra Angelico

Another in a series of observations of early medieval paintings in the National Gallery London, and endless source of inspiration and amusement. Intended to show how I find stories in a painting, not my opinion of the subject matter nor its creator. Nothing replaces seeing the real thing!

Christ Glorified in the Court of Heaven (1423-4) by Fra Angelico 1417-55

The Angelic Host are rolling up their sleeves for the finale; they’ve brought out the portative organ, which is heavy, even in heaven, where you would think the physics would be different.

Clearly the viol player in green has hit a bum note, its neighbour (in pink) rolls its eyes, resigned to imperfection. And the shawm player is out of time.

The big trumpets are out – is it Judgement coming? five of them – three on the left and two on the right, and drums – unbalanced – for what reason?

Christ leans noticeably to the left, as though he heard that wrong note and is taking his own, to Speak Later.

There is an audience of saints, some of whom are chatting amongst themselves, not that taken up with the music.

It doesn’t look as though the noise is at all heavenly.

© Cherry Potts 2013

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