Paintings for the Armadio degli Argenti (1451-52)
by Fra ANGELICO

Fra Angelico was commissioned for a massive painted cabinet to protect the precious silver votive offerings at Santissima Annunziata, among the most venerable churches in Florence.

The Armadio degli Argenti (Silver Chest) may have been the most visible of the friar's work by virtue of the site for which it was made. Santissima Annunziata was the motherhouse of the Servites, founded by St Filippo Benizzi (c. 1233-1285), the only religious order that originated in Florence. The sacrality of the church was augmented further when, as legend recounted, an angel completed the fresco of the Annunciation in 1252. By the early fifteenth century, the Annunciation had become the centre of a major cult, receiving donations of precious silver. In the late 1440s, Michelozzo renovated Santissima Annunziata at the behest of Piero de' Medici to accommodate the throngs of worshippers who flocked to behold the sacred image. To safeguard the silver offerings to the Annunciation, Piero commissioned a wooden cabinet, the movable shutters of which Fra Angelico painted.

Angelico's series depicting scenes from the life of Christ consisted of 40 paintings of equal size (38,5 x 37 cm) and one additional double-sized painting. From the 41 paintings 6 were lost during the centuries. From the 35 paintings conservated in the Museo di San Marco 3 can be attributed to Baldovinetti, all the others are the work of Fra Angelico.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 9 minutes):
Josquin Desprez: In principio erat verbum, motet


Preview Picture Data File Info Comment
Scenes from the Life of Christ
1451-52
Tempera on panel, 123 x 123 cm
Museo di San Marco, Florence

1200*1201
True Color
270 Kb



Scenes from the Life of Christ
1451-52
Tempera on panel, 123 x 160 cm
Museo di San Marco, Florence

1400*1076
True Color
294 Kb



Scenes from the Life of Christ
1451-52
Tempera on panel, 123 x 160 cm
Museo di San Marco, Florence

1400*1071
True Color
322 Kb



Paintings for the Armadio degli Argenti (detail)
1451-52
Tempera on wood, 118 x 75 cm
Museo di San Marco, Florence

800*1222
True Color
200 Kb



Paintings for the Armadio degli Argenti
1451-52
Tempera on wood, 118 x 75 cm
Museo di San Marco, Florence

800*1231
True Color
204 Kb



Mystic Wheel (The Vision of Ezekiel)
1451-52
Tempera on panel, 39 x 39 cm
Museo di San Marco, Florence

1000*1020
True Color
189 Kb



Annunciation
1451-52
Tempera on wood, 38,5 x 37 cm
Museo di San Marco, Florence

970*996
True Color
190 Kb



Flight into Egypt
1451-52
Tempera on wood, 38,5 x 37 cm
Museo di San Marco, Florence

1057*1100
True Color
178 Kb



Massacre of the Innocents
1451-52
Tempera on wood, 38,5 x 37 cm
Museo di San Marco, Florence

1020*1042
True Color
190 Kb



Communion of the Apostles
1451-52
Tempera on wood, 38,5 x 37 cm
Museo di San Marco, Florence

589*800
True Color
162 Kb



Circumcision
1451-52
Tempera on wood, 38,5 x 37 cm
Museo di San Marco, Florence

1054*1100
True Color
174 Kb




Summary of paintings by Fra Angelico
Altarpieces
San Domenico | Prado | Linaioli | Last Judgment | Annunciation
Cortona Triptych | Perugia | San Marco | Trinitŕ | Various
Frescoes
Convent of San Marco: cells, others | Cappella Niccolina
Other works
Armadio degli Argenti | Various panels | Miscellaneous