Fresco cycle in Montefalco (1450-52)
by Benozzo GOZZOLI

The rib-vaulted, pentagonal apsidal chapel (choir) of the Franciscan monastery church in Montefalco, built between 1336 and 1340, was decorated in 1450-52 by Benozzo Gozzoli with a cycle of frescoes depicting the most important stages and deeds from the life of St Francis, the founder of the order.

The selection of scenes in Montefalco differs from the traditional pattern. Benozzo only depicted scenes from the saint's life from his birth to his death, and omitted the posthumous miracles. He also did not keep to the chronological order of events, instead creating a new thematic order of the saint's life. The lowest row - with the exception of the Meeting of St Francis and St Dominic - shows scenes from his youth. In the second row his deeds are depicted, and in the third row the proofs of divine mercy. Benozzo places the emphasis in his life of St Francis on the proofs of divine mercy and the similarities and parallels between his life and Christ's. At the same time, he places the scenes in a contemporary architecture and landscape, in order to give his contemporaries a closer understanding of St Francis.

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 episodes are the following:

Scene 1
Episodes: (1) Birth of St Francis, (2) Prophecy of the Birth by a Pilgrim, (3) Homage of the Simple Man,
Scene 2
Episodes: (4) St Francis Giving away his Clothes, (5) Vision of the Church Militant and Triumphant,
Scene 3
Episodes: (6) Renunciation of Worldly Goods, (7) The Bishop of Assisi Dresses St Francis,
Scene 4
Episodes: (8) Vison of St Dominic, (9) Meeting of St Francis and St Dominic,
Scene 5
Episodes: (10) Dream of Innocent III, (11) The Confirmation of the Rule,
Scene 6
Episode: (12) The Expulsion of the Devils from Arezzo,
Scene 7
Episodes: (13) Preaching to the Birds, (14) Blessing Montefalco,
Scene 8
Episode: (15) Death of the Knight of Celano,
Scene 9
Episode: (16) Establishment of the Manger at Greccio,
Scene 10
Episode: (17) Trial by Fire before the Sultan,
Scene 11
Episode: (18) Stigmatisation of St Francis,
Scene 12
Episode: (19) Death of St Francis

The lost stained glass window depicted the Vision of San Damiano.

In the umbrella vault, 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.



Preview Picture Data Info
View of the main apsidal chapel
1450-52
Fresco
San Francesco, Montefalco


Scheme of the fresco cycle
1450-52
-
Apsidal chapel, San Francesco, Montefalco


Scenes from the Life of St Francis (north wall)
1452
Fresco
Apsidal chapel, San Francesco, Montefalco


Scenes from the Life of St Francis (south wall)
1452
Fresco
Apsidal chapel, San Francesco, Montefalco


Scenes from the Life of St Francis (Scene 1, north wall)
1452
Fresco, 304 x 220 cm
Apsidal chapel, San Francesco, Montefalco


Scenes from the Life of St Francis (Scene 2, north wall)
1452
Fresco, 270 x 220 cm
Apsidal chapel, San Francesco, Montefalco


Scenes from the Life of St Francis (Scene 3, south wall)
1452
Fresco, 270 x 220 cm
Apsidal chapel, San Francesco, Montefalco


Scenes from the Life of St Francis (Scene 4, south wall)
1452
Fresco, 304 x 220 cm
Apsidal chapel, San Francesco, Montefalco


Scenes from the Life of St Francis (Scene 5, north wall)
1452
Fresco, 304 x 220 cm
Apsidal chapel, San Francesco, Montefalco


Scenes from the Life of St Francis (Scene 6, north wall)
1452
Fresco, 270 x 220 cm
Apsidal chapel, San Francesco, Montefalco


Scenes from the Life of St Francis (Scene 7, south wall)
1452
Fresco, 270 x 220 cm
Apsidal chapel, San Francesco, Montefalco


Scenes from the Life of St Francis (detail of scene 7, south wall)
1452
Fresco
Apsidal chapel, San Francesco, Montefalco


Scenes from the Life of St Francis (Scene 8, south wall)
1452
Fresco, 304 x 220 cm
Apsidal chapel, San Francesco, Montefalco


Scenes from the Life of St Francis (Scene 9, north wall)
1452
Fresco, 304 x 220 cm
Apsidal chapel, San Francesco, Montefalco


Scenes from the Life of St Francis (Scene 10, north wall)
1452
Fresco, 270 x 220 cm
Apsidal chapel, San Francesco, Montefalco


Scenes from the Life of St Francis (Scene 11, south wall)
1452
Fresco, 270 x 220 cm
Apsidal chapel, San Francesco, Montefalco


Scenes from the Life of St Francis (Scene 12, south wall)
1452
Fresco, 270 x 220 cm
Apsidal chapel, San Francesco, Montefalco


St Francis in Glory and Saints
1452
Vault fresco
Apsidal chapel, San Francesco, Montefalco



Summary of paintings by Benozzo Gozzoli
Various paintings
up to 14501460-71after 1471
Narrative fresco cycles
St Francis
(Montefalco)
Procession of the Magi
(Florence)
St Augustine
(S. Gimignano)



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