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Fra Angelico at San Marco

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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 beautiful book, William Hood analyzes the newly cleaned frescoes at San Marco, setting them against the background of fifteenth-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 ...
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1993 Hardcover New 0300057342. Flawless copy, brand new, pristine, never opened--Description: xv, 338 p. : ill. (some color); 29 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. ... 327-335) and index. Read more Show Less

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Overview

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 beautiful book, William Hood analyzes the newly cleaned frescoes at San Marco, setting them against the background of fifteenth-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 Fra Angelico's work at San Marco to earlier Dominican altarpieces and to his other altarpieces for Dominican buildings in Siena, Pisa, Prato, and Florence, pointing out both the traditional elements and the startling 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 an 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 corridor of the north dormitory. Throughout, he analyzes Angelico's use of color, his technique in fresco and tempera, the way he solved specific visual problems, and how his paintings affected fifteenth-century viewers. This beautiful book will be an important addition to our understanding of fifteenth-century art and of artistic and cultural practices.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Sponsored by the Medici, Fra Angelico's paintings for the priory of San Marco are among the foremost monuments in early Renaissance Florence. This extraordinary cycle, though stylistically au courant, emerges out of a tradition of sacred subject matter favored by the artist's Observant Dominican order. Hood's masterful study persuasively reconstructs the link between the paintings and the institutional spirituality articulated in the order's liturgical habits and literary traditions. While rejecting the notion of a unified iconographic program, the author ably demonstrates the formal and didactic intentions that underlie Angelico's artistic and intellectual choices. Hood's profound understanding of the Observants' religious mentality and its committed expression in the artist's work are complemented by a comprehensive grasp of the art historical context and a keen ability to articulate the paintings' nuances of style. An exquisite corpus of reproductions further enhances an exemplary scholarly labor. Highly recommend ed.-- Robert Cahn, Fashion Inst. of Technology, New York
Brad Hooper
One of Florence's greatest visual delights presents itself when, after a climb to the second-floor dormitory in the Dominican monastery of San Marco, the viewer is confronted, head-on at the top of the stairs, with Fra Angelico's fresco "The Annunciation". Art historian Hood devotes his study exclusively to the work that Fra Angelico did at San Marco, which included not only "The Annunciation, "but also other frescoes in the dormitory halls, in the monks' cells, and as an altarpiece. Accurate reproductions appear on nearly every page, and in many instances occupy a full page; they are decidedly more than adjunct to the text as Hood isolates evidence of Fra Angelico's masterly talent in composition, color, and technical execution. But that is only one level of Hood's estimation of this vastly consequential Renaissance artist. Fra Angelico's message is the deeper context of Hood's criticism. Into this artist's work Hood reads visual representation of the precepts of Dominican philosophy, particularly its focus on preaching and on devotion to the Virgin. Fra Angelico, himself of the monastery, painted frescoes not for the enjoyment of his fellow brethren per se, but to provide daily reinforcement of the religious ideals under which they lived and worshiped. For larger art history collections.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300057348
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/1993
  • Pages: 360
  • Product dimensions: 9.97 (w) x 11.47 (h) x 1.28 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword and Acknowledgements
Introduction: San Marco Problems 1
1 The Myth of Original Perfection and the Ideals of the Dominican Observance 15
2 Contingency and Discontinuity: The Dominican Community at San Marco, 1436-1455 29
3 Traditio: Dominican Altarpiece Conventions in Fourteenth-Century Tuscany 45
4 The Limitations of Likeness: Fra Angelico's Dominican Altarpieces before 1440 65
5 Real Presence: The San Marco Altarpiece 97
6 Ritual Sites: Florentine Painted Cloisters and the Representation of History 123
7 The Liturgy of the Dominican Constitutions: Frescoes in the Cloister of San Marco 147
8 The Community of Believers: The Crucifixion in the Chapter Room of San Marco 167
9 Habits and Manners: Frescoes in the Novices' Dormitory 195
10 Eloquence and Contemplation: Frescoes in the Clerics' Dormitory 209
11 Rich and Poor: Frescoes in the Laybrothers' Dormitory and in Cosimo de' Medici's Cells 239
12 Nature and Grace in the Art of Fra Angelico: The Madonna and Child with Eight Saints and the Annunciation 255
Afterword 275
Appendix: The Dominican Constitutions 279
Notes 302
Bibliography 327
Index 336
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