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

Scenes from the Life of St Francis (Scene 10, north wall)

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

Benozzo connects the Trial by Fire before the Sultan with another event. The dancing girl from the "Fioretti," who is shown here between the two main figures in the scene, has been ordered by the Sultan to attempt to seduce the saint, and she later converts. She is used to loosen up the otherwise rather stiff composition, but at the same time also creates a link as regards content between the two groups.

From the throne room of the richly-decorated palace Sultan Melek-el-Kamel and his servants follow the amazing events by which Francis proves God's protective powers. Only the date palm behind the red brick wall gives an indication of the oriental setting. The architectural elements of the palace and the row of cypresses, however, originate in the architecture of contemporary Italian nobility.

The accompanying inscription reads: Q(UA)NDO SOLDANUS MISITUNA(M) PUELLA(M) AD TE(N)TA(N)DUM B. F. ET IP(S)E I(N)TRAVIT I(N)IGNE(M) ET OMNES EXTUPUERUNT - "How the sultan sent a girl to tempt St Francis, and how he walked through fire and amazed everyone."