Benozzo Gozzoli was born in Florence, around 1420. This was an important period for the development of Renaissance art and the history of Florence.
His paintings were hung in the Vatican, in Palazzo dei Medici in Florence, in Camposanto in Pisa, where he produced his most monumental pictorial cycle; but also in Montefalco, Orvieto, Volterra, Viterbo and Terni. Other works can be found in the collections of the most important museums in Italy and elsewhere, as you will see in the “Opere” section. As was customary at the time, Benozzo not only painted important cycles of frescoes, but also made recourse to many of the various art techniques in use in the foremost workshops of the IV° century. In 1497 he left his last work in Pistoia, a sinopia (underdrawing) of the Maestà, which was never completed owing to his death.
The artist also established a special relationship with the Valdelsa, the area stretching from Florence to Siena and intersected by the Elsa river.
When Benozzo Gozzoli arrived in Valdelsa, he was already an accomplished painter. He was known for his prestigious fresco cycle in San Gimignano, and in a short space of time he produced some very successful works throughout the area: from San Gimignano to Certaldo, Legoli in Valdera and Castelfiorentino.
Here, he painted his two majestic tabernacles: in 1484 the one dedicated to the Madonna della Tosse, situated in Castelnuovo d’Elsa, and in 1491 the one conventionally known as della Visitazione, at the entrance of the old town, close to the Elsa river.
…and his museum
For preservation purposes, between 1965 and 1970, the frescos of the two tabernacles were detached from their original location, to be restored and safely stored in the warehouse of the Florentine Superintendency. When they were returned to Castefiorentino, they were temporarily exhibited in the town Library.
In 2009, a new museum dedicated to Benozzo Gozzoli was opened, the BeGo, where the frescos can now be admired by the community in their full splendour.
“Benozzo Gozzoli” is the “genius loci” of Valdelsa. From San Gimignano to Certaldo and Castelfiorentino, he distributed his works in the shadow of ancient bell towers and municipal towers as old and proud as the inhabitants of this land.
Benozzo settled down well in Valdelsa. The people loved his painting for its intellectual and folkloristic content, with its power to charm and narrate with grace and wisdom. More than five centuries have passed, but Benozzo lives on in the people’s memories and hearts. From generation to generation the affection, love and gratitude for an artist that had worked with the Pope and the Medici family of Florence, but who had been attracted by the rural beauty of this valley more than any other place in Italy, have been passed down to the townspeople of today and their governors.
This is the story of the creation of a Museum dedicated to Benozzo in Castelfiorentino. Designed by architect Massimo Mariani and financed by the public administration and the Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze bank, the structure has been specifically conceived and built to host the two detached frescos from the two famous tabernacles.