Procession of the Magi

This fresco is the most famous work by Benozzo Gozzoli, a pupil of Fra Angelico. It is located in the family chapel in the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi in Florence, a burnished gem in the heart of a fortress. I like it so much partly because it is a `hidden treasure', but mainly because it is extremely beautiful and incredibly well preserved, compared with many of the frescoes in that illustrious city of art. Although the perspective is dubious and the figures somewhat stilted, the colours are just fabulous. Of course, people have argued for its historical significance in placing man - or Mammon - at the centre of the work, rather than the religious subject which gives it its name. There's a good turnout of members of the Medici family, then perhaps at the height of their power and sundry other worthies. This sort of vainglory would not have gone down too well with Savanarola and his acolytes - the hidden message here is not too well hidden. Frankly, I'm not that interested: if the main function of a picture is to make you look at it, then this one works for me.

Copyright © 2003, Roland Wilson. All rights reserved.