Convento Di San Marco
I love my Fra Angelico book I purchased in Italy. I thought this week would write about the Museum were I fell in love with this great artist. The Covento Di San Marco in Florence, Italy is a place were time stood still for me while I walked slowly, step by step, through the museum, which once was a monastery. To be honest this was not the museum I was most looking froward to seeing that day, and I don't think I was expecting much from and old monastery, turned museum, but then the great things in life do often end up surprising you. I learned a lesson on viewing art that day, one I am happy to hold on too.
(This was the only picture I could find from 2001 of the museum, you can see what a great photographer I was back then with my point and shoot!)
With the smell of a hot summer day in the air I approached cell after cell, with a sense of surprise and delight. The monks had slept in these cells, day after day, month after month, year after year and each cell filled only with one tiny bed and a small, gorgeous fresco painted by Fra Angelico. Most bathrooms built today are bigger than these cells were, where the monks spent much of their time and as I continued through the museum, with sweat rolling down my back, I could not help but wonder how much of a monk’s time, was spent looking at the painting in their cell? A few of the monks fresco's depicted some rather bloody crucifixion, while other cells fresco's depicted other scenes of Christ life such as the nativity scene. How different was a monks time in a cell that held the fresco of Christ crucifixion, verses the monk who got the cell with my favorite fresco depicting the annunciation of Mary? (not to be confused with Fra Angelico, bigger fresco of Mary Annunciation, also at the Museum as well) I was lucky to see these fresco in the context of were the painting were meant to be and I found this to affect how I viewed these painting. Had I seen these painting hanging on a stale white museum wall with a description next to them of where they had hung, away from the context of there surroundings, I think my experience would have been completely different. I saw many paintings depicting Christ's life while in Italy, but none ever spoke to me like these humbly painted frescoes, made more by their humble surroundings.
If any of you are heading to Italy, I encourage you to go see this wonderful museum and if any of you have all ready been there, I would love to hear your experience.