The Virgin in Majesty with Angels and Saints
Current location: Palazzo Pubblico, Sala Ghibellina
Address: Piazza del Duomo, Pistoia
Arriving in Pistoia in the first months of 1497, in all probability, Benozzo was entrusted the work of frescoing the most important hall of the Town Hall. The subject was the Majesty – the Virgin seated in a throne and surrounded by saints. This subject already enjoyed immense popularity in Tuscany in the thirteenth century, thanks to its civic and religious double meaning that was especially well-suited for public places.
Gozzoli was unable to finish the fresco before his death, but his sinopia work remained hidden under a layer of intonaco until its rediscovery in 1955.
Despite the unfinished state of the artwork, the design itself suggests the composition that Benozzo had in mind for this context. Even though clear references are made to the thirteenth century Majesty by Lippo Memmi in San Gimignano (a work Benozzo knew well because he had restored it himself during his stay there), the painter clearly sought to allude to depth of space through his oblong arrangement of the saints, in antithesis to the stately figures of more ancient versions.
It is curious to note, in the end, how Benozzo remained faithful to the use of sinopia throughout his entire career of artistic production, despite the fact that others had already been substituting this technique with the spolvero (dusting) and cartooning methods for many years.
Esequie della Vergine, tabernacolo della Madonna della Tosse, Museo Benozzo Gozzoli, Castelfiorentino