(b. ca. 1420, Firenze, d. 1497, Pistoia)
St Dominic Reuscitates Napoleone Orsini1461
Tempera on panel, 25 x 35 cm
Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan
This little panel was part of a predella from an altarpiece of the Madonna, Angels and Saints, which was commissioned by the Confraternity of the Purification of the Virgin, in Florence. On October 23, 1461, the contract for the painting was drawn up. It is a remarkable document in the number and precision of its stipulations and instructions. The painter was asked to use Fra Angelico's altarpiece at San Marco as a model and to execute the entire work by his own hand, with the greatest care. One clause stated that "...the said painting must go beyond all the good painting done up to now by the said Benozzo, or at least should be comparable in quality..."
The artist scrupulously observed the conditions of the contract. His composition is clearly articulated, with the initial episode of the narrative placed in the middle ground. The culminating moment of the miracle is brought forward toward the spectator by the figures of the women and the monks, who are following the silent dialogue between the saint and the resuscitated child.