Originally named Gentile di Niccolò di Giovanni di Massio, he was named after his birthplace, Fabriano in the Marches. He carried out important commissions in several major Italian art centres and was recognized as one of the foremost artists of his day, but most of the work on which his great contemporary reputation was based has been destroyed. It included frescos in the Doges' Palace in Venice (1408) and for St John Lateran in Rome (1427). In between he worked in Florence, Siena, and Orvieto.
His major surviving work is the celebrated altarpiece of the Adoration of the Magi (Uffizi, Florence, 1423), painted for the church of Sta Trinità in Florence, which places him alongside Ghiberti as one of the greatest exponents of the International Gothic style in Italy. It is remarkable not only for its exquisite decorative beauty but also for the naturalistic treatment of light in the predella, where there is a night scene with three different light sources. Gentile had widespread influence (much more so initially than his great contemporary Masaccio), notably on Pisanello, his assistant in Venice, Jacopo Bellini, who worked with him in Florence, and Fra Angelico, who was his greatest heir.
The best work in English on Gentile is the chapter on the artist in Raimond van Marle, The Development of the Italian Schools of Painting, vol. 8 (1927). Luigi Grassi, ed., Tutta la pittura di Gentile da Fabriano (1953), in Italian, is useful for its illustrations.
Christiansen, Keith, Gentile da Fabriano, Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1982.
Vasari, Giorgio. La vite del più eccellenti pittori, scultori e architetti. Gentile da Fabriano e il Pisanello. Ed. Adolfo Venturi. Florence, 1896 (originally 1568).
Gentile da Fabriano e l'altro Rinascimento, catalogo della mostra (Fabriano, 21 aprile-23 luglio 2006), Electa, 2006.
Fabio Marcelli, Gentile da Fabriano, Silvana, 2005.
Andrea De Marchi, Gentile da Fabriano. Un viaggio nella pittura italiana alla fine del gotico, Federico Motta, 2006 (I ed. 1992).