San Marco Museum in Florence
Museum in Florence
The San Marco Museum, located in Piazza San Marco in Florence, is housed in the oldest part of the Dominican convent of San Marco, which was restored and expanded by the architect Michelozzo in the 15th century under the patronage of Cosimo de’ Medici. The convent was consecrated in 1443 and became a hub of fervent activity, attracting notable figures like Girolamo Savonarola.
The museum is renowned for housing the most extensive collection of works by Fra Angelico, one of the greatest painters of the Early Renaissance. Fra Angelico, a Dominican friar, lived in the convent for a period, and his frescoes and paintings adorn various parts of the building, especially the Chapter House, refectory, cloister, and cells on the first floor.
Notable frescoes by Fra Angelico include the Crucifixion in the Chapter House, which depicts the martyrdom of Christ and the emotional reactions of those witnessing it, reflecting the Dominicans’ emphasis on educated spirituality. Other frescoes, such as the Annunciation, The Marys at the Tomb, and Noli me tangere, can be found in some of the cells.
The Pilgrims’ Hospice in the museum showcases panel paintings by Fra Angelico, including some of his early works, along with a splendid reredos featuring the Last Judgement and the Deposition from the Cross, set against a backdrop of Tuscan hills.
In addition to Fra Angelico’s works, the San Marco Museum also houses other significant art pieces. These include a Last Supper fresco by Ghirlandaio from the late 15th century and various paintings by Fra’ Bartolomeo.
The museum’s library is a harmonious example of Renaissance architecture and contains magnificent illuminated manuscripts, some of which were created within the convent. The San Marco Museum is a treasure trove of art and history, offering visitors a glimpse into the profound artistic and spiritual legacy of its resident friars and the rich cultural heritage of Florence.
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