priory of San Marco
A brief description.
The Priory, noted now as San Marco, was mentioned as early as the 12th century. In 1436 Cosimo de’ Medici gave the Dominicans the church and the priory which had previously been in the possession of the Sylvestrine Brothers. Michelozzo was charged with the radical restructuring of the buildings, and Fra Angelico with their decoration.
On the first floor of the cloister are fine lunettes frescoed by Pocetti, Rosselli, Coccapani, Vanni, Cerrini, Dandini and other illustrious artists.
The first twenty cells in the dormitory on the upper floor were built in 1437.
The north dormitory on the other hand was not started until 1440. The library wing followed in 1441 after Cosimo de’Medici had taken over the library of the scholar Niccolò Niccoli, who died in 1437. It was finished in 1444. Finally in 1442 the south ring was erected over the hospice, but there was damage caused in 1453 by an earthquake, which probably meant that further changes had to be made.
Fra Angelico’s fresco in the chapter room has a representational element as well as a devotional one, as the place for meetings for the whole order, as for the daily meeting of the brothers.
In the refectory a fine Supper of St. Dominic, a fresco by Sogliani, and on the walls the Last Judgement by Bartolommeo della Porta, O.P.
At the end of the corridor is Savonarola's cell where there is his portrait painted by Fra Bartolomeo de la Porta. A flight of stairs on the right leads down to the small refectory with a large fresco of the Last Supper by Ghirlandaio.
The church of the priory was restored in 1437 by Michelozzo himself; it was later remodelled by Giambologna (1580) and then by Silvani; the simple facade was redone between 1777 and 1780, with St. Dominic at the entrance to the cloister and the lunette over the door with St. Peter Martyr.
In Michelozzo's sacristy is the sarcophagus with a bronze statue of St. Antoninus Pierozzi by Fra Domenico Portigiani (1602). Nearby is the Chapel of St. Antoninus with marble and bronze decorations by Giambologna and Francavilla, and other works by Alessandro Allori and Battista Naldini; the frescoes in the dome are by Poccetti. The priory is a state property since 1866 and a museum since 1869.
Gabriele Bartz: Guido di Piero, known as Fra Angelico. Könemann Verlagsgesellschaft, Köln 1998, S 64-66. Some notes from Internet: Casa Editrice Bonecchi.
Detail of the fresco Last Supper (1480), by Domenico Ghirlandaio,
in the small refectory of the San Marco’s priory at Florence.
Italy 2000, Mi 2686, Sc 2337.
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