In Florence, an exhibition on Benozzo Gozzoli and his splendid Chapel of the Magi

From December 16 to March 15, 2022, Palazzo Medici Riccardi in Florence is hosting the exhibition "Benozzo Gozzoli and the Chapel of the Magi," all dedicated to the great Florentine painter and his masterpiece.

From December 16, 2021 to March 15, 2022, Palazzo Medici Riccardi in Florence is hosting the exhibition Benozzo Gozzoli and the Chapel of the Magi: an exhibition curated by Serena Nocentini and Valentina Zucchi that investigates the links of Benozzo Gozzoli (Benozzo di Lese di Sandro; Scandicci, c. 1420 - Pistoia, 1497) with the city of Florence, where the artist left his greatest masterpiece, namely the frescoes of the Chapel of the Magi, executed by the Florentine painter in the late 1450s at the behest of the Medici family.

Benozzo’s undertaking dates to 1459, and it decorates the chapel of what was then the family residence, the sumptuous palace designed a few years earlier by Michelozzo at the behest of Cosimo the Elder. The Chapel of the Magi features a decoration that recreates a wide landscape dotted with woods and castles where the cavalcade of the Magi takes place, which we witness as if we were seeing an official parade, so much so that we catch glimpses of the portraits of some of the doctors, from the pater patriae Cosimo the Elder to Piero the Gouty, including the young Lorenzo the Magnificent and his brother Giuliano, and those of various rulers of the time, such as Sigismondo Malatesta, Galeazzo Maria Sforza, and Giovanni VIII Paleologus. Also present are intellectuals, such as Marsilio Ficino, Luigi Pulci, and Benozzo Gozzoli himself, who depicted himself in the frescoes.

The exhibition traces the executional events of the Chapel but also delves into Benozzo’s relationship with the city where he was trained as an artist and where he obtained his first commissions, later linking his name to that of the Medici: the exhibition also stands as an invitation in regard to the public to discover the many other works by Benozzo found in the area. Important loans come to the exhibition, such as the Madonna del Baldacchino from the National Gallery in London, the Mystic Marriage of St. Catherine from the Museum of San Marco, drawings arriving from the Uffizi, the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice, and the Louvre. Relevant documents of the time, above all the letters on loan from the Florence State Archives, will instead provide a documentary framework. Again, a collaboration with the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana makes possible the display of the codex in which the ancient inscription of access to the chapel is witnessed. To complete the whole, art film supports to accompany the visitor along the tour itinerary.

Benozzo Gozzoli was born around 1420 in Scandicci but soon moved to Florence, in 1427: we do not know for certain with whom he conducted his apprenticeship, but it is likely that he trained in the workshop of Beato Angelico. The first certain attestation of his activity dates from the 1430s, when he collaborated with Beato Angelico on the decoration of the cells in the convent of San Marco. In the early 1440s he formed an association with Fra Angelico, and in the same period he also made trips, beginning with the one in 1447 to Rome, where he went to work in the Apostolic Palace together with Fra Angelico. Instead, his first signed, independent work, theAnnunciation of Narni, signed “Opus Benoti de Florentia,” dates from 1450. He remained active in Umbria for some years: he worked in Montefalco, Narni and Perugia, and for some time he was also in Viterbo, where he worked in the convent of Santa Rosa. It was in 1459 that he returned to Florence, where he married (his wife would bear him nine children, two of whom, Francesco and Alessio, would also become painters) and where he worked on the frescoes in the Chapel of the Magi. From the 1960s until his death he was active for a long time in the Val d’Elsa and Val d’Era, establishing himself as a prolific painter of tabernacles, some of which are now preserved in the Benozzo Gozzoli Museum in Castelfiorentino, an institute devoted entirely to his work.

For all the info you can consult the website of Palazzo Medici Riccardi.

In Florence, an exhibition on Benozzo Gozzoli and his splendid Chapel of the Magi
In Florence, an exhibition on Benozzo Gozzoli and his splendid Chapel of the Magi

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