Benozzo Gozzoli

Hi everyone! This week I wanted to talk about an Italian Renaissance artist. His name is Benozzo Gozzoli. Gozzoli was a prolific Florentine Renaissance artist. He is considered a Florentine artist based on his reputation in Florence, but Gozzoli actually worked in other Italian cities. He was an apprentice to Fra Angelico, and he had commissions from one of the top families in Italy, the Medici.

Although Gozzoli is known for his frescos, he also created extremely beautiful paintings. Similar to that of other Renaissance artists, Gozzoli’s work also focused on heavily on religious topics.

There are two paintings that I wanted to review today. The first painting is called The Virgin and Child Enthroned among Angels and Saints created in 1447-50.

Gozzoli, The Virgin and Child Enthroned among Angels and Saints, 1447-50

Image from National Gallery

This painting reminds of a combination of Fra Angelico’s and Filippino Lippi’s style. Here, Gozzoli creates a beautiful setting based on an ornamental carpet with a minimal background. Most of the painting is consumed by the figures in it. The Virgin and baby Christ are in center surrounded by five angels. On their right, left, and front, are six saints. On our left, there is Saint Zenobious, first Bishop of Florence, next to John the Baptist. On our right is Saint Dominic and next to him is Saint Peter.  The front left has Saint Hieronymus, and the front right has Saint Francis.

Gozzoli creates Mary in a pure, and light design, making her white with rosy cheeks. Baby Christ has blondish hair with orange highlights. Mary is holding the baby, while Christ blesses the saints.

There are two birds on the bottom of the stairs, which could represent a “‘winged soul’,” according to George Ferguson’s Signs and Symbols in Christian Art. If this is the chance, then Christ is blessing the two “winged souls” as well.

I personally love how calming the colors are. Gozzoli does a fantastic job combining these figures together in a harmonious way. Even the angels around Mary create a circle that encompasses Mary and Christ.

The second painting is The Virgin and Child with Angels created in 1461-2.

Gozzoli, The Virgin and Child with Angels, 1461-2

Image from National Gallery

Based on the National Gallery website, Gozzoli is a questionable artist for this painting. Because of the frame on this painting, it seems that people have assumed that Fra Angelico may have painted this. However, I think that this painting may have been completed in the workshop of Angelico, along with Gozzoli and other painters, possibly even Angelico.

Here Mary and Christ are surrounded by a variety of angels. Four angels are holding onto rods that provides shade for Mary and Christ. They are all surrounded by trees, and flowers are all over the ground. What I find adorable about this painting is that one angel is peeking over Mary’s shoulder at her and Christ. It’s adorable because it adds some humor to the painting, and it shows us the curiosity that this angel has. It almost looks like the angel wants to play with Christ.

Gozzoli, Miracle of St. Dominic, 1461-2

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