Agnolo Bronzino

Agnolo Gaddi

Ambrogio Lorenzetti

Andreadi di Bonaiuto

Andrea del Castagno

Andrea del Sarto

Andrea di Bartolo

Andrea Mantegna

Antonello da Messina

Antonio del Pollaiuolo

Bartolo di Fredi

Bartolomeo di Giovanni

Benozzo Gozzoli

Benvenuto di Giovanni

Bernard Berenson

Bernardo Daddi

Bianca Cappello

Bicci di Lorenzo

Bonaventura Berlinghieri

Buonamico Buffalmacco

Byzantine art



Dietisalvi di Speme

Domenico Beccafumi

Domenico di Bartolo

Domenico di Michelino

Domenico veneziano


Duccio di Buoninsegna

Eleonora da Toledo

Federico Zuccari

Filippino Lippi

Filippo Lippi

Fra Angelico

Fra Carnevale

Francesco di Giorgio Martini

Francesco Pesellino

Francesco Rosselli

Francia Bigio

Gentile da Fabriano


Domenico Ghirlandaio


Giorgio Vasari

Giotto di bondone

Giovanni da Modena

Giovanni da San Giovanni

Giovanni di Francesco

Giovanni di Paolo

Giovanni Toscani

Girolamo di Benvenuto

Guidoccio Cozzarelli

Guido da Siena

Il Sodoma

Jacopo del Sellaio

Jacopo Pontormo

Lippo Memmi

Lippo Vanni

Lorenzo Ghiberti

Lorenzo Monaco

Lo Scheggia

Lo Spagna

Luca Signorelli


masolino da panicale

master of monteoliveto

master of saint francis

master of the osservanza

matteo di giovanni

memmo di filippuccio

neroccio di bartolomeo

niccolo di segna

paolo di giovanni fei

paolo ucello


piero della francesca

piero del pollaiolo

piero di cosimo

pietro aldi

pietro lorenzetti



sandro botticelli

sano di pietro


simone martini

spinello aretino

taddeo di bartolo

taddeo gaddi

ugolino di nerio



Lorenzo Monaco (Piero di Giovanni), Abraham (detail), The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Travel guide for Tuscany

Lorenzo Monaco | The Four Prophets

Don Lorenzo Monaco, whose real name was Pietro di Giovanni, was born in Siena about I370. He must have come to Florence at an early age, for his first known works, dating from I387-I388, show very close affinities to the style of Agnolo Gaddi, who was in all probability his teacher. In I39I he entered the Camaldolese monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli, where he learned the art of miniature painting. The practice of this craft, which requires great precision of technique, marked his style even in altar- pieces. From the start, however, he possessed as well a genuine sense of monumentality and grandeur. The culminating point of his career was the great altarpiece of the Coro- nation of the Virgin of I4I4, now in the Uffizi, in which he successfully combined Gothic linearism with Giottesque plasticity. The felicitous blend of these two very different aesthetics is the hallmark of his style.

Lorenzo Monaco was the greatest exponent of the International Gothic style in Florence, but unlike Ghiberti, his counterpart in sculpture, he was not an innovator, nor did he pos- sess the creative genius or imaginative power of a Masaccio. Rather, he is to be singled out from among his contemporaries as a particularly sensitive artist, a highly accom- plished craftsman with a keen sense of color and elegance of design. His importance lies in having brought to a peak of refinement the traditional character of late trecento painting and in having introduced an element of poetry and fantasy to its worn-out set of conventions.

One of the most attractive pictures of the late Middle Ages," wrote Bernard Berenson in I932 about one of the four panels by Lorenzo Monaco purchased by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1965. This beautiful series of four enthroned prophets represents one of the most important acquisitions made by the Metropolitan Museum in the area of late Gothic Italian painting since the early years of the century.

The Four Prophets

Lorenzo Monaco was the outstanding painter in Florence during the first quarter of the fifteenth century — before the appearance of Masaccio, Masolino, and Fra Angelico — and the undisputed master of the so-called International Gothic Style. These four pictures of Old Testament patriarchs rank among Lorenzo's masterpieces. While the brilliant coloring and refined treatment of details recall his work as a miniaturist, the solid treatment of forms relates them to contemporary Florentine sculpture — especially that of Ghiberti and Nanni di Banco. A fifth, somewhat damaged panel showing Saint Peter (private collection) seems to have belonged to the series, the arrangement and function of which remain conjectural (were they for a secular setting, such as the courtroom of the Mercanzia?).

Lorenzo Monaco, Abraham

'At the turn of the fifteenth century Flor- ence offered a particularly receptive atmos- phere for the International style. During the second half of the fourteenth century the city had been torn by economic and social crises: spectacular bankruptcies, drastic swings in leadership-first to the right and then to the left - and devastating epidemics of the plague. With renewed prosperity toward I400 came the return to power of the upper middle class, and the luxurious, courtly art of the North was ideally suited to the aristocratic aspira- tions of this new ruling bourgeoisie. At the same time the plague, which had wiped out entire families and left nearly all others in mourning, made a profound impres- sion on the people. Fear of God and a deep sense of guilt resulted, inspiring men to con- trition and moving them to greater piety. The religious orders became stricter, and the so-called Observant movement sprang up- to which the monastery of Santa Maria degli Angeli belonged - advocating closer adherence to doctrine and to the institutional authority of the Church. The works of Lorenzo Monaco, with their happy fusion of the monastic and the courtly, are in perfect accord with the ideological and social climate of the Florence of his day. In the case of our panels, the brilliant and re- fined color scheme, the nobility of the figures, in which something of the courtly art of the dukes of Burgundy can be felt, must have satisfied Florentine nostalgia for the splendors of a past chivalric age, just as the Florentines' deeply religious spirit is reflected in the mys- tical intensity of the prophets' severe, brood- ing faces.'
de Montebello, Guy-Philippe. "Four Prophets by Lorenzo Monaco." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, v. 25, no. 4 (December, 1966), p.8.
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Bent, George R., Monastic Art in Lorenzo Monaco’s Florence: Painting and Patronage in Santa Maria degli Angeli, 1300-1415, Lewiston, New York, 2006.
Santa Maria degli Angeli is well-known to Medieval and Renaissance art historians as an important center of illuminated manuscript production and the monastic home of the accomplished painter Lorenzo Monaco. Locked inside the walls of a severely cloistered monastery, monks from the Camaldolese house of Santa Maria degli Angeli had access to some of the most innovative paintings produced in Florence between 1350 and 1425. Leading painters of the day, like Nardo di Cione and Lorenzo Monaco, filled manuscripts and decorated altars with richly ornamented pictures that related directly to liturgical passages recited – and theological positions embraced – by members of the institution. In a city marked by wealthy and sophisticated ecclesiastical communities, the one at Santa Maria degli Angeli had few peers.
Dependent on the benefices of a powerful network of patronage, the monks in Santa Mara degli Angeli counted among their staunchest allies families associated with the most important political alliances in Florence, and by 1378 the monastery was considered by many to be closely linked to the city’s most potent families. Monks executed a variety of tasks and obligations which took place throughout the year. Among these was a lengthy and solemn procession, held on specific feast days, that took the community to every altar and altarpiece in the monastic complex. The route they took and the images they saw caused each participant to see his collection of images in sequence, and thus encouraged him to consider the altarpieces in his environment both individually and collectively. The culmination of this procession came to be the extraordinary high altarpiece produced by Lorenzo Monaco in 1413, the Coronation of the Virgin, which summarized both the entire program of monastic imagery in Santa Maria degli Angeli and the importance of individual patronage in Europe’s most progressive and potent city-state. This work examines and explains the appearance, function, and uses of painting in one of the day’s most important cultural centers.


[1] de Montebello, Guy-Philippe. "Four Prophets by Lorenzo Monaco." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, v. 25, no. 4 (December, 1966), p. 156.

Lorenzo Monaco: a Bridge from Giotto's Heritage to the Renaissance, ed. by Angelo Tartuferi and Daniela Parenti (Florence: Giunti, 2006), pp. 266-68, 271 [exhibition catalogue].


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