Sant’Antonio Abate (1440-1441)

Angelico, Fra (c.1395-1455)

Sant’Antonio Abate (Saint Anthony Abbot)
Tempera on panel, 39.4 x 14 cm
Art Institute of ChicagoChicago

Trained initially as an illuminator, Fra Angelico became a Dominican friar early in his successful career as a painter. This panel was almost certainly once part of the major altarpiece that he painted shortly after 1440 for the high altar of the church of the Dominican convent of San Marco in Florence, a work commissioned by Cosimo de’ Medici. Dismantled by the early 19th century, Fra Angelico’s altarpiece had as its focal point a large central panel representing the Virgin and Child with saints; below this a predella featured episodes from the lives of the Medici patrons, Saints Cosmas (Cosimo’s namesake) and Damian. At the sides, set into the uprights of the frame, were 10 separate saints standing on clouds. Saint Anthony Abbot would have been one of these; a fourth-century Egyptian hermit, the saint was considered the founder of monasticism. (AIC)