GOZZOLI, Benozzo
(b. ca. 1420, Firenze, d. 1497, Pistoia)

Shrine of the Madonna della Tosse

Transferred fresco
Biblioteca Comunale, Castelfiorentino

Two monumental shrines, of proportions similar to those of true chapels were frescoed by Benozzo Gozzoli at Castelfiorentino, on the initiative of a single client, Ser Grazia di Francesco, prior of Santa Maria at Castelnuovo Val d'Elsa: the Shrine of the Madonna della Tosse, and the Shrine of the Visitation. Among the assistants who were given the job of translating the master's ideas into painting was probably his son Francesco.

The Shrine of the Madonna della Tosse originally stood on the road between Castelfiorentino and Castelnuovo Val d'Elsa. In 1853 a Neo-Gothic chapel was built around it in order to transform it into an oratory, however, this was not sufficient to arrest the deterioration of the murals. Detached and restored in 1970, they have been remounted in the Biblioteca Comunale.

The focal point is formed by a wall fresco which creates the illusion of a lavishly framed altar painting with a predella. In order to support the illusion, Gozzoli painted a small pointed picture on the lower frame showing the face of Christ, just as if it had been added at a later stage in the manner of a votive picture.

On the cross vault are depicted the four Evangelists and Christ Giving his Blessing, on the keystone. The Dormitio Virginis is on the left wall and the Assumption, with the delivery of the Virgin's girdle to St Thomas, on the right wall.

The fading or even complete disappearance of the more fragile zones of colour has greatly impoverished the scenes, in which Benozzo has sought variety within symmetry, emphasizing the correspondences between the two wall scenes.