Friday, August 8, 2008

Museo San Marco - Fra Angelica

Museo San Marco is home to the glorious work of Fra Angelico. He painted the cells of the monastery for his brothers of the Dominican church in Florence near the Galleria del Accademia.

This museum isn't usually too busy, but provides a great look into Friar life of the Renaissance. Fra Angelico decorated the cells of the Friars with scenes of Saint Dominic inserted into Biblical scenes. Each image repressents divine life and illustrates the goal of each Friar in their work. Fra Angelico's Annunciation is one of my favorites in San Marco. His Annunciation is one of my favorite Annunciation scenes.

Savonarola lived here. You can visit his large cell with his desk and chair. You can also see his cloak. Savonarola took Florence away from the Medici family. He preached and raised the citizens to riot. He was responsible for the fire of the vanities forcing citizens and artists to burn things that were deemed "illegal" for church going people. It is sad to note that Botticelli burned some of his paintings in the fire. Savonarola was ultimately hanged and burned to death in Piazza Signoria. Rebels didn't last long in Florence.

San Marco delivers the calmness of the Friar's life. Its cloister is beautiful. The Dominicans were determined to avoid the moral problem of wealth and lived peaceful lives (except Savonarola).

Fra Angelico often wept before painting scenes of the crucifixion and refused to work on anything but sacred images. He was given the name Angelico by another Friar.

Pope John Paul II entered him into the church's official role of beautiful Christian. I recommend spending at least 2-2.5 hours at San Marco to soak it all in. You may have to wait a few minutes before entering each cell for those ahead of you to exit. The rooms are small and people often enjoy each work for 3-5 minutes.

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