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

St Augustine at the University of Carthage (scene 2, north wall)

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

The fresco with St Augustine at the University of Carthage has been severely damaged. St Augustine is kneeling on the right side in front of two seated scholars. Between them, in the background, appear two youthful figures framed by a classical pediment portal.

In 371 St Augustine went to the University of Carthage in order to study the liberal arts. These can be subdivided into the trivium of grammar, rhetoric and logic, and the quadrivium of arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music. In his encyclopaedia work "Satiricon" (ca. 450), Marcianus Capella stated that there were seven liberal arts. In Carthage, Augustine became familiar with Cicero's philosophical treatise "Hortensius'; and this led to his first conversion, when he adhered to Manichaeism. This was a dualistic philosophy founded by the Persian Mani (216-273), which comprised the battle between light and darkness, between good and evil.

In the two first pictures, the School of Tagaste and the University of Carthage, the figural scenes appear within a perspectively painted architecture typical of the Early Renaissance. In contrast to Montefalco, the figures and architecture here form a harmonious whole.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.