Artist. An early Italian Renaissance artist, known to contemporaries as Fra Giovanni da Fiesole (Brother John of Fiesole) and Fra Giovanni Angelico (Angelic Brother John), he was born Guido di Pietro at Rupecanina, in the Mugello region of the then Republic of Florence, in present-day Italy. Nothing is known of his childhood or his parents. In October 1417 he joined a religions confraternity at the Santa Maria del Carmine Church in Florence under his birth name. By this time he was already recognized as a painter. Sometime between 1418 and 1423 he became a Dominican friar in the nearby town of Fiesole, taking the name Fra Giovanni. From 1418 to 1436 he painted a number of frescoes for the Dominican Friary of Cortona and the convent of Fiesole, most of which have since been destroyed. In 1436 he moved into the newly-constructed Friary of San Marco in Florence, where he began painting frescoes throughout the monastery, including the famous "The Transfiguration." In 1439 he painted the Altarpiece for Saint Marco's Church in Florence, one of his most famous works, which depicts the enthroned Virgin Mary with Christ-Child, surrounded by various saints. In 1445 Pope Eugenius IV called him to Rome to paint the frescoes of the Chapel of the Holy Sacrament at Saint Peter's Basilica, which was later demolished by Pope Paul III. In 1447 he was in Orvieto, in the Province of Terni, where he painted frescoes in the Chapel of San Brizio in the Orvieto Cathedral. He returned to Rome later that year and designed and painted frescoes for the Niccoline Chapel, Pope Nicholas V's private chapel. Among the frescoes that survived are scenes from the lives of martyred early Christian Saints Stephen and Lawrence. He returned to Fiesole in 1449 and became the Prior of the convent there. Returning to Rome a few years later, possibly for the purpose of working on the Niccoline Chapel, he died while staying at a Dominican convent. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on October 3, 1982.
Bio by: William Bjornstad