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L’affresco di Fra Angelico nella sala capitolare del convento di San Marco a Firenze: alcune precisazioni iconografiche


Victor M. Schmidt


This contribution concerns the identification of three figures in Fra Angelico’s fresco of the Crucifixion in the chapter room of the convent of San Marco in Florence.

The identification of the figure to the far left in the band surrounding the Crucifixion as St Dionysius is con­firmed by the text on his scroll, “Deus nature patitur”: the source is a lectio for the feast of St Dionysius and his companions Rusticus and Eleutherius (9 October) in the Roman Breviary

Next it is argued that the secular bishop to the right of St Dominic in the main fresco is St Augustine. The mi­tred monk next to him has a brown habit with a dark cowl, which has recently been identified as an article of clothing worn by high-ranking orthodox ecclesiastics. In fact, the figure of St John Chrysostom depicted by Fra Angelico in the Cappella Nicolina in the Vatican, wears a similar cowl. However, in the context of monastic saints in the convent of San Marco, the mitred monk must be another orthodox ecclesiastic, i.e., St Basil the Great. As is borne out by, among other things, a similar programme in the church of San Francesco in Pisa and the Chronicon of St Antoninus, the two saints, together with St Benedict (represented to the mitred monk’s right), were considered key figures in the development of monasticism: all three were authors of monastic rules. That is the reason why Fra Angelico gave them such a prominent place among the other representatives of monasticism to the right of the Crucifixion.