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

Scheme of the fresco cycle

Apsidal chapel, San Francesco, Montefalco

The cycle of St Francis in Montefalco contains a total of 19 episodes from the life and work of the saint, arranged in a total of 12 pictures and a lost stained glass window. The cycle of pictures extends above the choir stalls along the five walls of the apsidal chapel, in three rows arranged one above the other. In contrast with tradition, they should be read starting with the bottom row, though in the usual manner from left (north wall) to right (south wall). The cycle then continues in the middle row and finishes in the lunettes. In this way, Benozzo was illustrating St Francis' path to salvation from earthly life to heavenly glory, which is depicted in the vault where St Francis is enthroned in glory with angels on either side. In the five spandrels he is surrounded by the most important saints of the Franciscan order.

23 medals decorate the narrow strip of wall between the frescoes and the choir stalls. On the north and south walls, in a kind of family tree, 20 Franciscan monks are depicted. The three medals on the short strip of wall beneath the window show portraits of three famous Florentines: Dante, Giotto and Petrarch.

Painted on the pilasters right and left behind the choir arch are two angels holding banderoles. In addition to the client's name, the Minorite brother Fra Jacopo of Montefalco, there also appears the signature "Benotius Florentinus" and the date of origin, 1452.