Heads of Angels

Image credit: The National Gallery, London

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These three angels are painted in fresco, the technique of painting directly onto wet plaster. The haloes are gilded and the plaster has been indented using a decoratively shaped tool to create patterns in the gold.

We do not know which church or monastery these angels once adorned, and from such a small fragment it is impossible to identify the subject of the scene of which they were part. We also aren‘t yet sure who painted the fresco, but suggestions have included Sassetta and Sano di Pietro, painters who both worked in the Tuscan city of Siena.

An undated letter stuck to the reverse of the fresco claims that it was acquired in Florence at the ’Convento delle Poverine, Via della Scala', which is confusing – the convent is in fact on the Via Tripoli in the city.

The National Gallery, London



Heads of Angels


probably about 1450


Fragments of fresco set into plaster of Paris


H 29 x W 41 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Henry Vaughan Bequest, 1900

Work type



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Normally on display at

The National Gallery, London

Trafalgar Square, London, Greater London WC2N 5DN England

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