San Marco Altarpiece (1438-40) by Fra Angelico

San Marco Altarpiece - Fra Angelico - 1438-40

Artwork Information

TitleSan Marco Altarpiece
ArtistFra Angelico
MediumTempera and gold on panel
Dimensions(220 x 227 cm)
Current LocationMuseo di San Marco, Florence

About San Marco Altarpiece

The San Marco Altarpiece, also known as Madonna and Saints, is a masterpiece created by the Italian painter Fra Angelico between 1438 and 1443. The painting was commissioned by Cosimo de’ Medici the Elder and is now housed in the San Marco Museum of Florence, Italy.

This altarpiece depicts a portrait of the Virgin and Child surrounded by saints and angels. The character positioning in the painting creates a deeply-receding logical space that pulls viewers into its world. Interestingly, this innovative style went beyond what was typical for contemporary Virgin and Child altarpieces.

Fra Angelico worked with an entourage of helpers, including Benozzo Gozzoli to finish this masterpiece. His techniques laid the groundwork for many famous artists, including Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and Mark Rothko. Unfortunately, part of this altarpiece was removed or dismembered in the seventeenth century. Nonetheless today it remains an unparalleled masterpiece which inspires people from all backgrounds to come visit its beauty at San Marco Museum in Florence.

Overall, Fra Angelico’s masterful creation established him as one of history’s most respected painters during his time; his influence can be felt around four centuries later into today’s art scene too thanks to how he transformed painting through his groundbreaking use of receding space technique on such large scale artworks like “Madonna with child and saints”.

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