Happy Easter! Χριστός ἀνέστη!

He is truly risen!

Blessed Fra Angelico has got what you need.  First, we have the women at the tomb greeted by an angel:

Image result for fra angelico resurrection

The Risen Christ hovers in the background, as it simply would not do to show merely an empty tomb. This fresco is in cell 8 upstairs at San Marco’s Dominican Convent in Florence, so Fra Angelico paints St. Dominic kneeling to the left – in the brother’s cell, he (almost) always puts a Dominican in the scene, to remind the viewer that he is not just looking at a pretty fresco, but is to see himself in the events portrayed.

I love the way the angel sits rather casually and seems to be caught mid-lecture: He is risen as he said!

The wonderful hymn O filii and filiae captures the moment thus:

 Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.

Ye sons and daughters of the Lord,
the King of glory, King adored,
this day Himself from death restored.

R. Alleluia

All in the early morning gray
went holy women on their way,
to see the tomb where Jesus lay.

R. Alleluia

Of spices pure a precious store
in their pure hands these women bore,
to anoint the sacred Body o’er.

R. Alleluia

The straightaway one in white they see,
who saith, “seek the Lord: but He
is risen and gone to Galilee.”

R. Alleluia

Next, from cell #1, is the “Do not cling to Me” scene from the Gospel of John:

Image result for fra angelico resurrection

The lack of a Dominican is a little unusual – a quick skim spotted only 3 or 4 others cell frescoes out of 36(?) or so cells that do not feature one. I could make up a story about how the text being illustrated – Mary Magdalene, confused and desperate, looking for her Lord, is enough of an Every Person for the artist’s purpose. But I don’t know.

Love the hoe on Christ’s shoulder – mistaken for the gardener, indeed. Here and in his Annunciations, where man’s fall and salvation are front and center, Fra Angelico sets them in a garden and adds much details to the plants and trees. Man’s proper place is, after all, in a garden, a place restored and then some by Christ’s Resurrection.  Ave fit ex Eva, after all.

We’ll end for this year with Piero della Francesca’s awesome Resurrection:

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Aldous Huxley, of all people, describes this fresco thus: “It stands there before us in entire and actual splendour, the greatest picture in the world.” Like most masterpieces, photos do it no justice. Piero captured the grandeur of the Risen Lord, and his realistic portrayal of the guards as contemporary Italian men at arms who dropped asleep where they sat is wonderful.

One last distraction: count the guards’ legs. Piero was painting the Resurrection, not guards’ legs, so if he needed to leave out a few…

 

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Author: Joseph Moore

Enough with the smarty-pants Dante quote. Just some opinionated blogger dude.

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