This talk discusses the narrative ability of architectural images, focusing on Fra Angelico’s Nicholas V Chapel. It examines the active role of architecture in these frescoes, revealing how it subtly but recognisably articulates time and place, thus addressing the theological and political messages of the chapel. This analysis demonstrates Angelico's awareness of the persuasive abilities of architecture in painting, as well as highlighting the poignancy of two-dimensional buildings beyond the representation of pictorial space.
Renaissance artists made extensive use of architecture in their work. By creating striking compositions and highlighting structural and ornamental features, they demonstrated their architectural knowledge and originality. In spite of this, two-dimensional buildings have often been interpreted in purely spatial terms, or as lesser counterparts of built structures - an approach that prevents us from recognising the communicative potential of architectural settings.