Museo di San Marco, Florence
The monastery of San Marco, built in Renaissance style by Michelozzo, with its superb collection of paintings and frescoes, gives a more focussed impression of the spiritual life of the Dominicans and their interest in art than does the church.In the late 15th and 16th centuries fierce religious forces emanated from San Marco that were temporarily to transform Florence. Besides the Dominican monk Antoninus, later to become St Antonino, Archbishop of Florence, there was Savonarola, the revivalist preacher who was Prior of San Marco until his execution in 1494.The monastery owes its fame, however, to the Dominican monk Fra Angelico, who painted the monastery rooms between 1436 and 1445, thus leaving us today with a "natural" museum. Fra Bartolommeo, an inspired early 16th c. artist, is also represented here by a number of his paintings.
Museo di San Marco Map
Address: Piazza San Marco 3, I-50100 Florence, Italy
Opening hours: 8:30am-1:50pm; Sun: 8:15am-7pm; Sat: 8:15am-7pm
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), May Day / Labor Day (May 1), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25)
Entrance fee in EUR: Adult €4.00, Concession or reduced rate €2.00
Useful tips: Last admission half hour before closing. Photography is allowed.
Disability Access: Partial facilities for persons with disabilities.
Museo di San Marco Highlights
Here there are panels by Fra Angelico from various museums in Florence, including "Madonna dei Linaioli" (1436, commissioned from Angelico by the linen weavers' guild), miniatures of the life of Jesus (1450), the famous "Deposition" (1435) and the "Last Judgment" (1430).
Cloister of St Antonino
Immediately opposite the entrance can be seen the fresco "St Dominic at the Foot of the Cross"; diagonally opposite the entrance, in the lunette, is the fresco "Ecce Homo", both by Fra Angelico.
Works worth seeing in the Great Refectory include Fra Bartolommeo's fresco of the "Last Judgment".
Sala dei Lavabo
Here there is another impressive work by Fra Bartolommeo, his large panel "Madonna with St Anne and other Saints" (1510).
The whole of one wall of the chapterhouse, where the monks confessed and atoned for their sins, is taken up by Fra Angelico's fresco of the "Crucifixion".
In the Small Refectory is a famous "Last Supper" by Ghirlandaio, similar to the one in the Ognissanti church.
There are over 40 cells on the first floor adorned with frescos by Fra Angelico and his pupils. His style is unmistakable in all the paintings and frescoes. He transforms the austere and stiff rigidity of the medieval saints into gentle tenderness. His saints radiate piety and innocence yet their features are not ethereal but entirely human. Man appears transfigured, the earthly bear traces of the celestial. There is scarcely a more intimate representation of the "Annunciation" than that of Fra Angelico (opposite the stairs).At the end of the back corridor are the Prior's rooms, where Savonarola is commemorated together with St Antonino, Archbishop of Florence. The last two cells on the right of the front corridor overlooking the church recall the memory of Cosimo the Elder who often came here in retreat when he was ruler of the city.
The great hall of the library, the work of Michelozzo (1444), is notable for the austere beauty of its architecture and contains valuable manuscripts, missals and bibles.
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