The trip of the Magi to Bethlehem by Gozzoli

The trip of the Magi to Bethlehem by Gozzoli
The trip of the Magi to Bethlehem by Gozzoli
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This Renaissance work was painted by the Italian artist Benozzo Gozzoli (1420 – 1497) between 1459 and 1463. During that time he was commissioned to paint the walls of the private chapel of the Palace of the Medicis in Florence. It was a major commission, since this family was the richest in the city, and they chose him to decorate one of the most intimate places of the family. Something more than valuable considering the love for art and the many patronages that this family carried out in Florence during the Renaissance period. The artist was so proud of this work that he even took a self-portrait among the group of characters that appear in the mural.

The Journey of the Magi to Bethlehem by Gozzoli

The Journey of the Magi to Bethlehem by Gozzoli

And it is that Gozzoli, without being one of the great revolutionaries of painting of that time, does bring together in his works influences from the most outstanding advances in art during theQuattrocento. For example, Benozzo Gozzoli was a disciple ofFra Angelico, author of religious scenes as charismatic as his Annunciation or the Virgin of Humility. With Fra Angelico he collaborated uninterruptedly for ten years, except for a time when he participated together withLorenzo Ghibertiin the execution of the Gates of Paradise of theBaptistery of Florence.

WithoutHowever, despite being influenced by his great master, the artistic criteria of one and the other were very different, in addition to the fact that Fra Angelico's pictorial mastery was undoubtedly superior to that of Gozzoli.

For the Medicis Chapel, Gozzoli, whose real name was Benozzo di Lese di Sandro, covered its walls with a large representation of the cavalcade of the Magi, on their journey from the East to the city of Bethlehem to contemplate the Child Jesus. This religious theme served him to expand on many details, such as the landscapes that the Magi cross during their biblical journey or painstakingly depict their opulent costumes, something that gives the image a lot of elegance and also a clearly cheerful tone.

This detail fascinated the Medicis, since in some way it was like expressing their political and social philosophy, in which those festive demonstrations of luxury and pageantry were very important, which at the same time were understood as joyous acts and also as manifestations of their we alth and power.

In this way this pictorial group of Gozzoli is of enormous interest, although on the other hand who should consider this painter as a second-rate artist compared to other contemporaries of his such as Fra Angelico himself orPaolo Ucello. And the work is very interesting because it presents us with that close communion between art and power, and how a scene with a story from the Bible is transformed into an evocative representation of the society of itsepoch.

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