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Today, February 18, marks the day of death for two great artists of the Renaissance: Fra Angelico and Michelangelo.

Both men were born in Tuscany and both died in Rome. And though they lived in different eras—Michelangelo was born 20 years after Fra Angelico died in 1455—their lives and works helped define the art of the Renaissance.

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Fra Angelico’s Annunciation in the Convent of San Marco in Florence

Fra Angelico, also known as Beato Angelico, is best known for his frescoes on the walls of the convent of San Marco in Florence. This includes “The Annunciation,” painted between 1440 and 1445. Like Michelangelo, Fra Angelico was commissioned to create religious art for the Vatican, including the frescoes of the Niccoline Chapel (one of my favorite places for art in Rome). Angelico died while working on a project for Pope Nicholas V. So, he was subsequently buried in Rome, in the church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva.

Michelangelo, who hardly needs an introduction, died in Rome on February 18, 1564. He never finished his last work of art, the Rondanini Pietà, an abstract-looking sculpture that today is on display at the Castello Sforzesco in Milan. Upon his passing, Michelangelo was sent to Florence to be buried in the Basilica of Santa Croce. Renaissance artist and biographer Giorgio Vasari designed Michelangelo’s tomb.

Finally, an art historian describes another connection between the two Renaissance masters:

“Within the cells of San’Marco, Fra Angelico had demonstrated that painterly skill and the artist’s personal interpretation were sufficient to create memorable works of art, without the expensive trappings of blue and gold. In the use of the unadorned fresco technique, the clear bright pastel colors, the careful arrangement of a few significant figures, and the skillful use of expression, motion, and gesture, Michelangelo showed himself to be the artistic descendant of Fra Angelico.”

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What a strange coincidence that they passed away on the same day.

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