Fra Angelico was an Italian painter active during the Early Renaissance. Angelico became highly respected during his lifetime, especially among the most prominent characters from the catholic church, Pope John Paul II would even proclaim Angelico's beatification in recognition of his life as an artist.
Fra Angelico was born as Guido di Pietro in 1395, in Rupecanina, a city near Florence, in the Italian region of Tuscany. Other than his birth, nothing is known about Angelico's parents nor childhood. The earliest document on his life dates from October 1417, when he became a member of a religious guild. This very record states he was already a painter by that time, and the first documentation as a friar dates back to 1423.
According to Giorgio Vasari, Angelico's first training was in illumination, probably under the teachings of his older brother Benedetto, also a Dominican friar. He may also be influenced by the painter Lorenzo Monaco in his studies, showing notable hints of the Sienese school style. In 1418 Fra Angelico left the Dominican friary of Cortona and went to the convent of Fiesole, where he stayed until 1436. In this period, he executed a large number of frescoes for the church, such as the Altarpiece, which the predella remains intact and is today at the London's National Gallery.
In 1436, Angelico was one of the first friars from Fiesole to move to the recently built convent of San Marco in Florence, nowadays a museum. This would put him right in one of the region's most prolific centers of artistic production, thus helping him achieve notoriety as well as patronage. His artwork was noticed by one of the city's most wealthy and influential members, Cosimo de Medici, who even had a cell for himself at the friary. According to Vasari, Cosimo gave Angelico the task to decorate the many parts of the friary, where he painted the Annunciation, the Coronation of the Madonna, and one of his most famous artworks, the San Marco Altarpiece. This work was very bold regarding imagery, by its time standards. Although it was very common to paintings have saints surrounding the Child and Madonna, they were mostly hovering around them, in a heavenly background.