Fra Angelico at San Marco - Hood, William - Yale University Press
Art and Architecture

Fra Angelico at San Marco

  • William Hood
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Out of Print.

Winner of the Art Libraries Society of North America's 1993 George Wittenborn Memorial Book Award

Winner of the 1994 Eric Mitchell Prize "for an outstanding first book"

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 Angelico's work at San Marco to earlier Dominican altarpieces and to Angelico's 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 dormitory corridor. 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. The book will be an important addition to our understanding of fifteenth-century art and artistic and cultural practices.

William Hood is professor of art history at Oberlin College.