Paradise is envisioned as a lush meadow tapestried with over-sized flowers and a line of what appears to be apple trees. Rabbits frolic about while the blessed greet each other or are welcomed by angels. The young males are dressed in the latest fashion, with red or bi-colored stockings, extravagant tunics and turbans, and the young women are no less fashionable in their long dresses with scalloped edges and heavy headdresses. There would seem to be no room for the poor in this Paradise, which is dominated by members of the Dominican order. Among the identifiable figures are Saint Giles at the upper left, dressed in white, with a deer behind him; Beato Ambrogio Sansedoni, a patron of Siena, at the middle left, dressed in the black and white Dominican habit, with a white dove near his head; Saint Augustine with his mother, Saint Monica, greeting each other at the center, she an old woman in black, he a bishop; Saints Dominic and Peter Martyr at the lower center, both in the Dominican habit; and Saint Anthony Abbot at the bottom right with two Dominican nuns. In the upper right, where the picture field has been cropped, an angel takes a youth by the hand and guides him into the golden light of Heaven. The inspiration for this scene is a painting that the Florentine Fra Angelico painted in 1431. More on this painting
Giovanni di Paolo di Grazia (c. 1403–1482) was an Italian painter, working primarily in Siena. He may have apprenticed with Taddeo di Bartolo, becoming a prolific painter and illustrator of manuscripts, including Dante’s texts.
He was one of the most important painters of the 15th century Sienese School. His early works show the influence of earlier Sienese masters, but his later style was more individual, characterized by cold, harsh colours and elongated forms. His style also took on the influence of International Gothic artists such as Gentile da Fabriano. Many of his works have an unusual dreamlike atmosphere, such as the surrealistic Miracle of St. Nicholas of Tolentino painted about 1455 and now housed in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, while his last works, particularly Last Judgment, Heaven, and Hell from about 1465 and Assumption painted in 1475, both at Pinacoteca Nazionale (Siena), are grotesque treatments of their lofty subjects. Giovanni’s reputation declined after his death but was revived in the 20th century. More on Giovanni di Paolo di Grazia
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