Museo di San Marco Florence
Museo di San Marco present convent stands on a site occupied since the 12th century by a Vallombrosan monastery which later passed to the Silvestrines; they were driven out of San Marco in 1418, and in 1438 the convent was given to the Dominican Observants. In 1437 Cosimo il Vecchio de’ Medici decided to rebuild the entire complex, at the suggestion of Antonino Pierozzi the Vicar-General. The work was entrusted to Michelozzo, and the decoration of the walls was carried out between 1439 and 1444 by Giovanni of Fiesole, known as Fra Angelico, and his assistants, who included Benozzo Gozzoli. The church was consecrated in 1443 in the presence of Pope Eugenius IV. The 14th-century structure was modified by Michelozzo; further alterations were made in the later 16th century by Giambologna, and in 1678 by Pier Francesco Silvani. Inside, the aisle-less nave has a carved and gilded ceiling.
The museum offers the visitor an example of a perfectly preserved fifteenth century convent, its rational and harmonious plan based on Brunelleschi’s innovations. Everything is designed to coordinate and simplify the monastic life within its walls as much in its calm cloister as in the light-filled library, one of the finest interiors of the Renaissance.
San Marco Museum also features a large number of other art works of priceless historical and artistic value, such as the Last Supper (Ultima Cena) by Ghirlandaio, the Madonna della Cintola by Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio, the Madonna and Child by Paolo Uccello, the famous portrait of Girolamo Savonarola, and several glazed terracotta made by the Della Robbia School.
The church of San Marco, adjacent to the Museum, is very charming as well. Several centuries ago, it had a famous bell attributed to Verrocchio, called by the Florentines la Piagnona (the crybaby).
The story of the bell is intertwined with that of Fra Savonarola: it was accused of playing an alarm during the arrest of the friar, so it was punished with exile in the church of San Salvatore al Monte, where never rang more!
In 2000 it was moved back to the monastery of San Marco.
Piazza San Marco 3 – 50121 Firenze, Italy
From Monday to Friday: 8.15 am to 1.50 pm
Saturday, Sunday and holidays: 8.15 to 4.50 pm
Museo di San Marco | paintings in chronological order
1426 – 1450