The scene in front of us captures the funeral of Saint Anthony. He is lying upon a raised platform which is covered with a bright red cloth. His halo appears in gold paint, just as Fra Angelico would do throughout his career. The deceased is dressed in a grey robe with black hood. The platform itself is made from wooden stakes, suggesting that the crowd has helped to carry the figure out to this spot. They now gather around in order for the funeral process to be completed. They are lined up in a uniform row, with just a few figures aside from that, suggesting a relatively equal importance of each figure here. One however has his back to us and prays directly to the body, as he kneels close by. Several individuals have their hands raised in the air, but most stand silently as they watch proceedings unfold.
This painting is a single element from a predella, and the entire series of works were devoted to the life of Saint Anthony Abbot himself. All of the items now found in the Prado Museum by Fra Angelico are believed to have been purchased at the same time, as part of a large purchase. Behind the figures here are several buildings that remind us of the architectural style of that period, and there is further sky and plants across the backgrounds. Whilst this series is not amongst the most famous of this artist's paintings, that would include the likes of Annunciation, The Last Judgement and San Marco Altarpiece, it is still an important contribution to his oeuvre and also reminds visitors to the Prado Museum of the talent of this member of the Italian Early Renaissance.
The Prado Museum hosts three paintings from the career of Fra Angelico in total. Alongside The Funeral of Saint Anthony Abbot you will also find The Annunciation (Madrid) and also The Virgin with the Pomegranate. It hosts a number of items that were originally owned by the Spanish Royal family but have since been allowed to been seen by the wider public. This has helped the Prado to become one of the most respected art museums in the world, where you can also see the likes of Goya, Bosch and Murillo too. There main focus has always been European art from the Early Renaissance up towards the end of the Baroque, though some later artists are also featured, such as Spanish Impressionist, Sorolla.