Fra Angelico at San Marco

Fra Angelico at San Marco


Fra Angelico's fresco paintings at the Dominican priory of San Marco are among the best-loved works of Italian art, yet they have been oddly neglected by art historians. In this book, William Hood analyzes the newly cleaned frescoes at San Marco, setting them against the background of 15th-century Florentine artistic, political, cultural, and religious history. Hood discusses the ideals, daily rituals, and pictorial traditions of the Dominican order - especially the reformed or Observant branch to which Fra Angelico belonged. He presents new material on traditions of religious art, altarpiece design and imagery, and the decoration of chapter rooms and cloisters. Hood compares Angelico's work at San Marco to earlier Dominican altarpieces and to Angelico's other alterpieces for Dominican buildings in Siena, Pisa, Prato, and Florence, pointing out both the traditional elements and the novelty of the San Marco altarpiece. Similarly, by comparing San Marco to other Florentine fresco cycles, he illuminates the originality of the cloister and chapter-house of San Marco.
Hood's discussion of San Marco follows and itinerary through the church and adjoining convent buildings, beginning with the high altarpiece and ending with the corridor paintings - especially the exquisite "Annunciation" in the dormitory corridor. Throughout, he analyzes Angelico's use of colour, his technique in fresco and tempera, the way he solved specific visual problems and how his paintings affected 15th-century viewers.

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