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The Textiles
by Benozzo Gozzoli
in the Cavalcade of the Magi

Limonaia of Palazzo Medici Riccardi
Via Cavour, 1 Florence
From 13 to 16 November 2008, 9-00-19.00: Exhibition of Textiles and Instruments


The exhibit’s aim is to highlight the relationship between the pictorial arts and the fruitful commercial life of 15th century Florence—where in the ateliers the craft and the application of innovative technology were taught.

The intent is to propose a different way of looking at the frescoes created in 1459 by Benozzo in the Chapel of the Magi, focusing on the marvelously manufactured textiles faithfully reproduced by the artist.

The manufacture of textiles, wools and silks were the driving sectors of the municipal economy; their powerful corporations organized the entire political, cultural and economic life of 15th century Florence, promoting the development of the arts.

The Medici family, in addition to being involved with monetary exchange and banking, held important textiles workshops that produced fabrics destined for sale throughout of Europe.

The correspondence between Piero the Gouty and Benozzo testify to the attention and the importance the family attributed to the precious textiles that were to be painted in the Chapel.

The apprehension of Piero regarding the proper execution of the representation of the textiles causes the supposition that the Chapel would not only be a place of prayer and devotion but also a “parlour” where one could invite the personalities of the day to admire the stupendous frescoed fabrics that the Medici’s manufacturers could produce. In this light, the Chapel would become the expositive part of the artisans atelier which today is known as the showroom.

Evidence of such thought comes directly from the manner in which the textile motifs are painted – privy of the rules of perspective – due to the need to show, as specifically requested by the commissioner, the design of the fabric of interest. Benozzo represents the folds and piped gussets of the clothes of his subjects with a sense of depth and breadth. Yet, strangely, not adapting the motif of the textile design to the drape of the garment. The artist is more focused on outlining the beauty and quality of the textiles rather than their realistic representation. Apparently, Gozzoli intended to publicize the textile topologies and the marvelous motifs that the Medici produced in their workshops just like a modern marketing expert.

The opportunity to admire the beautiful textiles exhibited, works of art in their own right, is thanks to the faithful reconstruction by the company RUBELLI in warp and weft of the motifs on the fabrics depicted in frescoes  by Benozzo Gozzoli.

Free; reservations required. Tel. 055 210866 (Musei Scientifici Fiorentini)


Istituto e Museo di Storia della Scienza
Provincia di Firenze
Museo dell'Arte della Lana
La Primavera della Scienza


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