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

Scenes from the Life of St Francis (Scene 6, north wall)

Fresco, 270 x 220 cm
Apsidal chapel, San Francesco, Montefalco

In the following scene of The Expulsion of the Devils from Arezzo, the saint drives the devils out of the city. An inscription on the city walls names the place where the event took place: CIVITAS ARETII. It is not, however, identifiable solely by the added sign with the place name, for Benozzo has created a realistic image of Arezzo in his depiction of the church of San Francesco, the baptistery of Santa Maria Assunta, the Palazzo Pretorio, the cathedral of San Donato and the municipal palace. Some of the buildings which stood there during the artist's life were not built until after the death of St Francis. With this picture of the town, familiar to observers of the time, Benozzo was reminding his contemporaries of the continuing validity of the saint's authority.

The small-scale landscape is arranged as if seen from above. The two figures in the picture - an older Franciscan monk whose hand is raised in blessing to heaven, and St Francis who is kneeling, deep in prayer - do not blend harmoniously with the landscape but appear to be standing in front of a backdrop. In addition, it becomes noticeable that the landscape and city views are not depicted using a uniform perspective. In this context it is significant that the two figures cover the transition in the picture from city to countryside.

This is another scene in which the artist deviated from the familiar scheme: instead of using an architectural backdrop, he placed the two protagonists in a lavishly painted landscape.

The inscription beneath the picture reads: QUANDO BS.F. EXPULIT DEMO(N)ES DE CIVITATE ARETII DIVINA POTENTIA ET PACIFICAVIT TOTU(M) POPULU(M) - "How St Francis used divine power to drive the devils out of the city of Arezzo and brought peace to the entire population."