Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added) is the best-kept secret
among contemporary American writers. --John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture Marly Youmans is a novelist and poet out of sync with the times
but in tune with the ages. --First Things

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Fra Angelico at Easter


Update, 16 hours later: One thing I love about comments is that people say curious things, and then that helps me to know my own mind. Here's a bit of my reply to the ever-interesting poet (and more) with the alliterative name, Roderick Robinson, drawn from the just-prior post on Fra Angelico's Christ:
I look at Fra Angelico with a kind of relief, knowing that he would never, ever believe in "a senseless act of beauty," that beauty for him is always meaningful. So different from our own day. He's always so direct and clear and devoted to the art. Like George Herbert, he could have been much in a worldly sense but turned away from those chances. I admire that sort of understanding, one that sees so clearly what is important in life and what is not. And there we are veering closer to what you call "unfashionability as a virtue."
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I'm too tired to think in words, so here's a little more Fra Angelico to admire--a detail from a fresco, "Resurrection of Christ and the Women at the Tomb" at the Convento di San Marco, Florence, 1440-1441. Public domain image. Here are some more beautiful San Marco images from Fra Angelico.

Here is how Giorgio Vasari describes Fra Angelico in his Lives of the Most Excellent Artists, Sculptors, and Architects:
He would not follow the ways of the world, but lived purely and holily, and was a great friend of the poor. He painted constantly, and would never represent anything but the saints. He might have been rich, but did not care about it, saying that true riches are nothing else than being content with little... To sum up, this father, who can never be enough praised, was in all his works and words most humble and modest, and in his paintings facile and devout; and the saints whom he painted have more the air and likeness of saints than those of any one else. It was his habit never to retouch or alter any of his paintings, but to leave them as they came the first time, believing, as he said, that such was the will of God. 
And now good night! Or good morning, elsewhere.

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Nancy Olson, founder and 29-year owner of Quail Ridge Books of Raleigh.
 Requiescat in Pace

6 comments:

  1. like it... vasari was a nice guy; he hardly ever had anything bad to say about anybody...

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    1. I only know him through snips--might be interesting to read the whole.

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  2. Ah, this brings back memories of a week in Florence and of course seeing Fra Angelico's work as well as so many others.

    Happy Easter to you and yours!

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    1. Oh, how lovely--I would like to go to Florence. And I want to see Gaudi's buildings in Barcelona. Etcetera. It's strange to have been to Cambodia but not France and Spain...

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  3. Thank you, Marly, and Happy Easter!

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    1. A glad Easter season to you, as well!

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Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.