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

The School of Tagaste (scene 1, north wall)

Fresco, 220 x 230 cm
Apsidal chapel, Sant'Agostino, San Gimignano

The first scene, The School of Tagaste, relates to his Confessions. This, probably his best-known work, was written between 397 and 401. The picture shows him starting school at the elementary school of Tagaste. The teacher walking towards the young Augustine is greeting him by gently caressing his face. Within the family group his mother, St Monica, is highlighted by means of a golden halo which obeys the laws of perspective. In the simultaneous scene on the right the teacher is punishing a pupil while the little Augustine is attentively studying a school slate with Greek letters on it.

From the scale of the buildings and figures it can be seen how far the pictorial space extends backwards. In this way Benozzo creates a counterweight to the arrangement of the figures parallel to the picture in the foreground.

Particularly characteristic of this cycle is the city view with buildings in the style of the Early Renaissance, including depictions of some that really exist.

The inscription tells us that Augustine made considerable advances within a short space of time in the Latin school of Tagaste, and emphasizes the Latin element that dominated his education.