The composition features the magician to the left hand side in a bright red robe. He has some slim ropes around his body which signify the entrapment that he had been experiencing. The remaining figures therefore are those freeing him. He is found in a garden besides a pretty house. The artist chooses to paint all manner of devil-like creatures in the darkness of the left hand side of the painting. Fra Angelico was a skilled artist who mastered many different genres and was able to put elements of them together, as shown here. Firstly, see how he produces the arches of the building close by, as well as the plants and trees that line the other side of the painting. There is then the figurative portraiture in the foreground, with several people included in stunning detail, with carefully drafted drapery and embroidered details.
The artist used tempera throughout his career which was derived from eggs and was common throughout the Italian Renaissance in its earlier stages. It was only later that artists such as Raphael would take the lead from North Europeans who instead used oils for their detail and colour. Fra Angelico also achieved a lot with touches of gold colour that really helped his work to stand out, as well as leading the eye to important parts of each composition. In the example of the painting in front of us here, The Apostle Saint James the Greater Freeing the Magician Hermogenes, he chooses to use it on elements of dress, as well as on the halo of the apostle, signifying his importance within the overall painting.
This painting can be found in the Kimbell Art Museum, which is based in the state of Texas, USA. Several stages of conservation have been carried out which has ensured that the painting is today still in fairly good condition, with much of the original detail still visible. Visitors to this important institution will be greeted with a varied collection of European and American art, from across a number of different periods and art movements. There is much to see here but some of our favourites include the likes of The Cheat with the Ace of Clubs by Georges de La Tour, The Raising of Lazarus by Duccio di Buoninsegna, Portrait of a Boy with Long Blond Hair by Théodore Géricault and also Portrait of May Sartoris by Frederic Leighton.