(b. ca. 1400, Vicchio nell Mugello, d. 1455, Roma)

Annalena Altarpiece (without predella)

c. 1435
Tempera and gold on panel, 180 x 202 cm
Museo di San Marco, Florence

The painting got the name from its original location, the Convento di San Vincenzo d'Annalena, founded by Annalena Malatesta.

This is Angelico's second sacra conversazione, and shares many elements in common with its forerunner, the San Marco altarpiece. Unlike the San Marco altarpiece, however, there are no angels here and the Virgin and Child are in the company only of Sts Peter Martyr, Cosmas, Damian, John the Evangelist, Lawrence and Francis. Although they have left their individual panels, never to return, there is still an echo of these in the blank arches of the wall which closes the back of the picture.

The high wall and its pink cornice run the full width of the panel. The natural world, which was the setting of the first altarpiece, is now confined to the grass and flowers at the very front of the picture. There is no carpet on the ground here and the foreground is much shallower than in the earlier work. The method of space projection remains basically the same and relies on the receding rectangles of the steps to the throne and of its cornice. An element common to both altarpieces is the use of a carpet running across the back of the picture parallel to the picture plane.