(b. ca. 1400, Vicchio nell Mugello, d. 1455, Roma)
View of the Convent of San Marco1436
Convento di San Marco, Florence
The Museum of San Marco is located in the former monastery of the Dominicans, constructed by Michelozzo in 1436 on a commission from the Medici ruler Cosimo the Elder. Michelozzo here adheres firmly to the Renaissance forms of Brunelleschi, even though his classicism has none of the other's passion for archeological research in it. The smooth, flowing lines of the cloister's arches create effects of light and shade which alternate in the series of vaults. Naturally the religious function and the deliberately spiritual effect of the structure, suggested by the order's Vicar General and perhaps by Fra Angelico himself, qualify these chiaroscuro and plastic impressions. The history of San Marco is inseparably linked to the figures of the painters, Fra Angelico and Fra Bartolommeo, and the friar Girolamo Savonarola.
The figure of Angelico dominates in the Convent. The friar painter lived a long time here and expressed here his delicate and simple soul in the sincere, candid forms of art. But a great part, not only the artistic, but of the religious and civil history of Florence developed here.
In the cloisters, in the dormitories, in the cells we find the conventual character well-preserved in the harmonious architectural plan. We also find the memory of San Antonino, who entered here as a friar, and, it is said on the advice of Angelico, came out of it in 1445 archbishop of Florence; and the memory of Savonarola, who came here in 1489, and was later prior of the convent and who from here raised himself against the decadence of habits calling the people to liberty and democratic arrangement; and the memory, above that of Angelico's almost unknown collaborators, of a great friar painter, Fra Bartolommeo.