Benozzo Gozzoli – The Journey of The Magi

The four walls of the dim little chapel are spread with a gorgeous cavalcade of kings and magi, knights and pages, horses, camels, leopards, apes and falcons, winding in an endless procession through a fabulous landscape, sauntering, gossiping and turning aside to hunt. Coats and bridles of scarlet, blue and gold brocade, crowns, velvets and furs glisten against the cool dark green of trees and grass. There are plump gray horses, slender active grooms, long straight lances and towering lance-like trees with fantastic plumed and many-layered tops, fruit-trees, roads, castles, cliffs and blue hills. All these brilliantly decorative themes, in endless variation, are organized without the slightest confusion, monotony or crowding. The design is more comparable to a Chinese landscape scroll than to an ordinary European picture, in that all the walls flow together into one long continuous symphony of repeated shapes and colors, inter-twining and unwinding, rising to climaxes and falling again, like the melodies in polyphonic music.

Other Pictures in Florence

These at least should not be missed: the powerfully modelled Last Supper by ANDREA DAL CASTAGNO, In the monastery of Sant’ Apollonia; the GIOTTO frescoes of the Life of St. Francis, in the Church of Santa Croce, badly restored but preserving his basic designs; the GHIRLANDAIO frescoes in Santa Maria Novella, with a pageant of Florentine life in decorative line and intricate spatial perspectives; the, frescoes by ORCAGNA in the Strozzi Chapel of the same church, fascinating for their subject-matter, the universe of medieval religion. The Biblioteca Laurenziana exhibits ancient, medieval and Renaissance manuscript illuminations.