The restored San Marco Altarpiece, by Beato Angelico, returns to its Museum in Florence, The San Marco Museum. The San Marco Altarpiece was executed between 1438 and 1443 for the high altar of the church of San Marco. In 1438 Cosimo and Lorenzo de ’Medici obtained the patronage of the main chapel of the church, which they decided to renovate by relying on the work of Michelozzo. They then commissioned Fra ‘Angelico da Fiesole, for the new high altar – dedicated to the titular saint and saints Cosma and Damiano – a new and grandiose altar table.
The majestic panel was to constitute the culminating moment of the Medici commission, to show with magnificence the profuse commitment of the Medici to the church and convent of San Marco. In this circumstance it was decided to remove the triptych by Lorenzo di Niccolò, signed and dated 1402, which was destined for the convent of San Domenico in Cortona, where it still stands today.
The composition of the central pictorial table depicts a Sacred Conversation, at the center of which is the Madonna and Child enthroned between eight angels and eight saints. In front of the throne, located on a base with two steps, the angels and saints are divided into two groups. Saint Lawrence can be recognized from the left, who greets the faithful who approach the altar with the raised hand (he is the patron of Lorenzo, brother of Cosimo), Saint John the Evangelist (protector of Giovanni di Bicci, father of Cosimo), Saint Mark, to whom the church is dedicated, which shows his Gospel to John. On the other side of the throne, St. Dominic, the founder of the Order, who looks at Francis of Assisi, who in turn, together with St. Peter the Martyr, addresses the Virgin and Child.