Finally, it is necessary to mention two artists that worked during the transitional period between the Early and the High Renaissance (this last between 1495 to 1527): Perugino and Pinturicchio. Pietro Vannucci, later called Pietro Perugino or simply “Perugino” (ca. 1446/1452 – 1523), was a contemporary of Botticelli; he was born in Città della Piave, (now Province of Perugia, in Umbria), in 1446 or 1452, to a humble family. His name “Perugino” alludes to his origins in Perugia, the lead city of Umbria. Art scholars still continue to dispute the socioeconomic status of his family: certain academics maintain that Perugino worked his way out of poverty thanks to his artistry, while others argue that his family was among the wealthiest in his home town.
These alleged humble origins are cited as Perugino’s main forces in his later desire for profit and the love for hard work. Perugino managed to become famous for his style and special finesse in painting, although somewhat affected. His father put him under the apprenticeship of a painter from a local workshop in Perugia, although he soon moved to Florence in order to perfect his painting. For this reason Perugino is considered as one of the last masters of the Florentine school. Once in Florence, he entered the workshop of
Andrea del Verrocchio alongside Leonardo da Vinci, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Lorenzo di Credi and Filippino Lippi. Perugino also studied Masaccio’s frescoes in the Brancacci chapel, by then considered a kind of “art academy” for young aspiring painters of the Florentine Quattrocento. Piero della Francesca is thought to have taught him perspective. By 1472, Perugino probably completed his apprenticeship since he was recorded as a master in the Confraternity of St. Luke. Perugino was between the first artists in Italy who used oil painting. Some of his early works were extensive frescoes executed for the convent of the Ingessati fathers, and that were destroyed during the Siege of Florence (1529-1530).
The Adoration of the Magi, tempera on wood, by Pietro Perugino, ca. 1476, 241 x 180 cm ( Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria, Perugia). This work was originally executed for the church of Santa Maria dei Servi in Perugia. The person at the left looking directly to the viewer is supposed to be the self-portrait of young Perugino. According to art scholars, this was one of the earliest commissions received by Perugino around the time he finished his apprenticeship in Florence. The painting follows the standard layout for Nativity scenes of the time, with the nativity hut placed on the right and the visitors’ procession developed horizontally, coming from the left. On the background, behind the ox and the donkey, is a rocky, hilly landscape that extends to the horizon using aerial perspective. The Virgin holds the blessing child on her knees, and behind her is St. Joseph, standing, with a stick. The oldest of the magi is kneeling, while the other two are offering the gifts. The crowded procession includes figures which became common in Perugino’s works, such as the boy with a turban and the blonde youngsters in elegant postures.
Perugino returned from Florence to Perugia, where he painted the
Adoration of the Magi (ca. 1476) for the church of Santa Maria dei Servi of Perugia. As well as other artists of his time, Perugino also made his corresponding trip to Rome, and together with Botticelli and Ghirlandaio, at around 1480 was called by Pope Sixtus IV to decorate with frescoes the side walls of the Sistine Chapel, as well as the altar wall, which were later replaced with Michelangelo’s Last Judgment. From Perugino’s paintings in the Sistine Chapel, we have the scene with Christ handing the keys to Saint Peter, a grandiose composition that is considered as one of his best works. In this fresco, the background includes an octagonal pavilion and two triumphal arches modeled after the Arch of Constantine. Through that distant and open background, countless small figures run and skillfully increase the impression of depth and distance. In the foreground, almost all placed in the same plane, are the companions of Christ and Saint Peter, among whom Perugino included some portraits.
Christ Handing the Keys to St. Peter, fresco, by Pietro Perugino, 1481-1482, 335 x 550 cm ( Cappella Sistina, Vatican City). This fresco belongs to the cycle of the life of Christ located in the fifth compartment on the north wall. The scene is a reference to Matthew 16 in which Jesus says he will give “the keys of the kingdom of heaven” to Saint Peter. In this fresco, the main figures are organized in a frieze in two tightly compressed rows and well below the horizon line. The principal group in the foreground, showing Christ handing the gold and silver keys to the kneeling St. Peter, is surrounded by the other Apostles, including Judas (fifth figure to the left of Christ), all with halos, together with portraits of contemporaries, including one said to be a self-portrait (fifth from the right edge). The man holding a square (second figure from the right) is thought to be a portrait of the architect of the Sistine Chapel. The main scene develops in a flat, open piazza divided by colored stones into large foreshortened rectangles, although they are not used in defining the spatial organization. The triumphal arches at the right and left edges appear as superfluous antiquarian references, suitable for a Roman audience. Scattered in the middle distance between the architectures and the main scene, are two secondary scenes from the life of Christ, including the Tribute Money on the left and the Stoning of Christ on the right. The style of the figures is influenced by the teachings of Verrocchio (see the folding drapery and the figures with beautiful features and long flowing hair, elegant demeanor, and refinement which recall the St. Thomas from Verrocchio’s bronze group at Orsanmichele). The octagonal temple, symbolizing the Temple of Solomon, with its ample porches dominates the central axis. In this fresco Perugino made a significant contribution in rendering the landscape: the sense of an infinite world that stretches across the horizon is mesmerizing and the feathery trees against the cloud-filled sky with the bluish hills in the distance represent a solution that later painters would find useful, especially Raphael. This fresco was believed to be a good omen in Papal conclaves: superstition held that the cardinal who (as selected by lot) was housed in the cell beneath the fresco was likely to be elected.
Baptism of Christ, fresco, by Pietro Perugino and Pinturicchio, ca. 1482, 335 x 540 cm ( Cappella Sistina, Vatican City). This fresco belongs to the cycle of the life of Christ located in the first compartment on the north wall. It was painted by Perugino and Pinturicchio, the latter being probably responsible for the landscape and minor scenes. The paintings on the walls of the Sistine Chapel were intended to be read in pairs, one from the left and one from the right. Thus this Baptism of Christ fresco faces the Circumcision of Moses’ son by Perugino and Pinturicchio (see next picture). The principal concern of these frescoes was to show how the new religion of Christ was deeper and more spiritual than the Jewish religion: by showing the Baptism and the Circumcision, the paintings emphasized how baptism (prefigured by many of the Fathers of Church, by circumcision) in fact represents a “spiritual circumcision”. The scene follows a symmetrical pattern, typical of Perugino. In the center is the Jordan River flowing towards the observer and reaching the feet of Jesus and John during the baptism in the center. A dove, symbol of the Holy Spirit, descends from the sky; it is sent by God, represented within a luminous cloud and flanked by flying seraphims and cherubims. The fresco also develops two secondary scenes: Christ Preaching on the right and the Sermon of John the Baptist on the left. The landscape includes a symbolic view of Rome, recognizable by a triumphal arch, the Colosseum and the Pantheon . The thin trees are typical of the Umbrian school and of Perugino in particular, and can be found in many of his other works (see following pictures). In the center there are also two kneeling angels who are keeping a towel: these are elements inspired by Flemish paintings, and can be seen in works by Hugo van der Goes and in the Portinari Triptych. To the left and right, in the foreground, are portraits of contemporary characters.
Moses’s Journey into Egypt and the Circumcision of His Son Eliezer, fresco, by Pietro Perugino and Pinturicchio, ca. 1482, 350 x 572 cm ( Cappella Sistina, Vatican City). This fresco belongs to the cycle of the life of Christ located in the first compartment on the south wall. The painting depicts the story of Moses’ journey to Egypt after exile in the land of Midian, when the angel tells him to circumcise his second son. Moses, dressed in yellow and green as in the other frescoes of the cycle, is leaving for Egypt, after he had been exiled from Midian, with Zipporah to his right. In the center, an angel asks him to circumcise his son Eliezer (depicted on the scene on the right), as a sign of the alliance between Yahweh and the Israelites. In the background we see Moses and Zipporah greeting Jethro before leaving. Natural elements include the hill landscape in the background, characterized by thin trees (including a palm, to the right, a symbol of Christian sacrifice), and the birds: two of them are mating (up close to the center), an allusion to the renovation cycles of nature. On the left background is a group of shepherds. The dames with flying dresses were a common element of Florentine early Renaissance painting, popularized by the works of Ghirlandaio and Botticelli.
Apollo and Daphnis (also known as Apollo and Marsyas), oil on panel, by Pietro Perugino, ca. 1483 or ca. 1495, 39 x 29 cm ( Musée du Louvre, Paris). This mythological painting was commissioned by Lorenzo de’ Medici. In the background is a rural scene with a city or castle, a three-arch bridge, trees typical of Perugino, hills and a river. The two nude figures in the foreground allude to the classical standards of ancient Greek and Roman art. The god Apollo, standing to the right in contrapposto, carries a baton in his left hand and a bow and quiver lays behind him. Apollo’s pose was based on that of Hermes in a sculpture of Hermes and Dionysius by Praxiteles. The identity of the young seated flute-playing figure on the left is debated, it has been identified as Marsyas, but that character was usually depicted as a satyr, so it is believed to be Daphnis, a young shepherd who died of love for Apollo. Daphnis is the Greek form of the name Laurus, possibly linking the work to Lorenzo de’ Medici. Daphnis’ pose draws on a sculpture of Hermes by Lysippus, best known as the Seated Hermes.
Soon after, Perugino, by then endowed with a special grace for color, began to paint devotional images, sweet Madonnas gently bowing their heads, surrounded by angels and saints, all showing the same kind of graceful melancholy. His works, which were extremely sought after by the religious communities, were bought by merchants who made a lucrative trade with them, even while Perugino was still alive, a situation which naturally forced him to repeat himself. “Pietro had worked so hard – says his biographer – and so many commissions he always had, that he often painted the same work.” That is to say, Perugino had become mannered to such an extent that at the end all his figures had the same appearance and shared many similarities. Perugino then admirably painted his figures of languid and somewhat affected saints; their clothes are of very soft colors, and in the background the sweet Umbrian landscapes begin to appear with their tall poplars, the creeks that meander through the green plains and the Apennines closing the horizon.
Pietà, oil on wood panel, by Pietro Perugino, 1483-1495, 168 x 176 cm ( Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence). Originally painted for the church of San Giusto alle mura near Florence, this panel is one of the most sober works amongst the numerous paintings of pietistic intent painted by Perugino. The scene was depicted under a portico, beyond which extends a serene landscape with light trees. Jesus’s body is horizontal and quite rigid, and is being held by John the Evangelist on the left and Mary Magdalene on the right. At the sides stand a young Nicodemus (on the left), with the hands joined in prayer, and an aged John of Arimathea (on the right), looking down.
Portrait of Lorenzo di Credi, tempera on wood transferred to canvas, by Pietro Perugino, ca. 1488, 44 × 30.5 cm (National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC.). Lorenzo di Credi was also a painter and sculptor who had studied with Perugino in Verrocchio‘s workshop. The painter is portrayed from three-quarters, with a rocky and hilly landscape in the background. Lorenzo’s melancholic expression, as well as his black clothes, are perhaps connected to the death of their master Verrocchio, which occurred in 1488.
Madonna and Child with St. Catherine and St. Rosa, oil on canvas, by Pietro Perugino, 1493, 63 x 86.5 cm (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna).
Madonna and Child enthroned between Sts. John the Baptist and Sebastian, egg tempera and oil on panel, by Pietro Perugino, 1493, 178 x 164 cm ( Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence). Originally placed in the church of San Domenico at Fiesole, this painting represents the Virgin holding baby Jesus and sitting on a high-based throne with a Roman-style decorative frieze. The imposing architectural background provides compositional stability to the two standing saints framing the Virgin and Child. To model the face of the Madonna, Perugino used the portrait of his wife Chiara Fancelli. This painting shows one of the first Madonnas by Perugino depicted not as an elegant maid, but as a more mature and severe woman, this following the more sober climate introduced in Florence by the preaching of Girolamo Savonarola.
Lamentation Over the Dead Christ (Deposition), oil on wood panel, by Pietro Perugino, 1495, 214 x 195 cm ( Galleria Palatina, Palazzo Pitti, Florence). The painting was done for the Convent of Santa Chiara at Florence and is admired particularly for the beauty of construction in the grouping of the well-spaced and harmonious figures around the dead Christ, the refined and delicate painting with its clear design and its soft gradations of color, and the lyrical atmosphere of the landscape. The main scene of the Deposition takes place in front of a hilly background with a lake and a fortified city. The dead body of Jesus is at the center, lying over a white shroud and held by one of the Pious Women, by Nicodemus (left) and by Joseph of Arimathea (to the right). The latter dons a richly decorated headdress with plant brocade. The Virgin is holding one of Jesus’s arms, looking at him. In the middle (standing) is Mary Magdalene, with brilliant red clothes, forming one of the three vertexes of an ideal triangle, the others being Joseph and Nicodemus. At the sides are two groups of figures: on the left, John the Apostle and a Pious Woman, on the right three men who are discussing amongst them.
Within this context, between 1486 and 1499, Perugino worked mostly in Florence, traveling once to Rome and several other times to Perugia. His studio in Florence received a great number of commissions. From this period is his notable
Pietà (1483–1495) and a Lamentation over the Dead Christ (1495) for the Florentine convent of Santa Chiara. Though residing in Florence, Perugino used the natural charms of his native country to achieve his greatest triumphs as a painter, such as his fresco of the Crucifixion (1494-1496), in the church of the convent of Santa Maria Maddalena de’ Pazzi, in Florence. Between 1496 and 1498 he worked on the polyptych of the Ascension of Christ for the church of St. Pietro of Perugia.
Portrait of Francesco delle Opere, tempera on wood, by Pietro Perugino, 1494, 52 x 44 cm ( Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence). The identity of the man is signaled by an inscription located on the back side of the painting. Francesco delle Opere was a Florentine craftsman, carver of precious stones, a friend of the artist, and certainly a very pious man, as suggested by the words “ Timete Deum” (“fear God”, the beginning of a famous preaching by Girolamo Savonarola) on the scroll he holds in his hand. He is placed against an open landscape with a city with pointed towers on the right. The sitter’s hands rest on an invisible parapet which coincides with the painting’s lower border, as in Flemish contemporary works such as Hans Memling’s Man with a Letter.
Portrait of a Boy, oil on panel, by Pietro Perugino, 1495, 37 × 26 cm ( Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence). The identity of the sitter is unknown.
The Pazzi Crucifixion, fresco, by Pietro Perugino, 1494-1496, 480 x 812 cm ( Santa Maria Maddalena dei Pazzi, Florence). This fresco is located in the east wall of the chapter house of the Cistercian monastery of Santa Maria Maddalena dei Pazzi. In the center the crucified Christ is depicted with Magdalene kneeling (the monastery was dedicated to St. Mary Magdalene). On the left side stand St. Bernard and the Virgin, on the right side St. John the Evangelist (standing) and St. Benedict. The three tall trees behind St Bernard (on the left panel) may symbolize the Holy Trinity. A fourth panel on the north wall shows Christ lowering himself from the cross to hold the hands of St Bernard.
The Ascension of Christ, oil on panel, by Pietro Perugino, 1496-1498, 342 x 263 cm ( Musée Municipal des Beaux-Arts, Lyon). This painting was the the central panel of a now dispersed polyptych, known as San Pietro Polyptych, commissioned for the Abbey of San Pietro in Perugia.
Reconstruction of the San Pietro Polyptych by Pietro Perugino (1496-1498), the wooden frame done by Domenico da Verona. During a reconstruction of the church’s choir the polyptych was dismantled and as a consequence its panels are now in different collections: the lunette with God in Glory between angels and the central panel, depicting the Ascension of Christ (see picture above), are in the Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon (France). The panels of the predella had not been exactly defined. At the sides were two columns which supported the frame and were decorated at the bases by three small panels with Saints. The tondoes of Jeremy and Isaiah (both 127 cm in diameter) at the top are now at the Musée des beaux-arts of Nantes. For the predella panels their location are as follows: Adoration of the Magi, Baptism of Christ and Resurrection (Musée des Beaux-Arts of Rouen), and St. Herculanus and St. Constantius (Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria at Perugia). The panels at the bottom of the columns (St. Maurus, St. Peter ad Vincula, St. Scholastica, St. Benedict, St. Flavia and St. Placidus) are at the Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria (Perugia) and the Pinacoteca Vaticana (Vatican City).
In 1499 the guild of the
cambio (money-changers or bankers) of Perugia commissioned him with the decoration of their audience-hall, the Sala delle Udienze del Collegio del Cambio. In this extensive and remarkable fresco cycle; Perugino took the opportunity to portray various heroes of antiquity according to his personal style: Socrates, Fabius Maximus, Trajan, dressed in the contemporary fashions of the time, in front of saints and prophets. In this same group of frescoes Perugino left us a curious self-portrait. These frescoes include the painting of the vault, showing the seven planets and the signs of the zodiac, and on the walls the representation of two sacred subjects: the Nativity and Transfiguration; plus additional figures like the Eternal Father, the cardinal virtues of Justice, Prudence, Temperance and Fortitude, Cato as the emblem of wisdom, and numerous other life-sized figures of classical tradition, prophets and sibyls. It is probable that Raphael (by then his pupil) assisted in the work of the vaulting as this was mostly painted by assistants though entirely designed by Perugino.
Ornamentation of the Collegio del Cambio in Perugia by Pietro Perugino (1497-1500). The Arte del Cambio (the moneychangers’ guild) was one of the most influential guilds of Perugia. One of the guild’s rooms, the main room called Sala di Udienza, was decorated by the Florentine woodcarver Domenico del Tasso, who created the inlaid paneling and the richly carved “tribunal,” or judges’ bench in 1491-1492, while Perugino was commissioned for the fresco decoration in 1496, which he completed in 1500 as it appears stated on a painted tablet across from Perugino’s self-portrait and signature. The design of the complex program of the fresco was by a highly sophisticated scholar, the humanist Francesco Maturanzio (1443-1518), who was a teacher of rhetoric and poetry in Ferrara and Vicenza before he returned to his native Perugia in 1497. Each of the two compartments on the left wall (left in the above picture) presents a row of six figures standing in front of a low landscape horizon. Above these, personifications of the four cardinal virtues sit enthroned on clouds, two in each compartment. Beside each of the Virtues is an ornamental inscription tablet flanked by putti and containing a Latin distich identifying her and celebrating the exemplars below. Each trio of figures is made up of two Romans and one Greek; their names appear on the ground beneath their feet. The narrower compartments on the back wall (to the right of the picture) present two Christian themes, the Transfiguration of Christ and the Nativity. The front half of the right wall is taken up by the carved tribunal (see picture below); in the compartment to its left are groupings of six prophets and six sibyls, each provided with a fragmentary prophecy on an inscription ribbon. God the Father appears above, holding the orb of the world. His mandorla is framed by heads of seraphim and flanked by adoring angels. The picture above shows the wall with Famous Men (the two compartments to the left), the self-portrait of Perugino (between the two) and the Cardinal Virtues (at the top of the compartments). On the back wall (to the right) the scenes of the Transfiguration and the Adoration of the Shepherds (Nativity).
View of the fresco decoration of the Collegio del Cambio in Perugia by Pietro Perugino (1497-1500). This picture shows the right and back walls of the Sala di Udienza. On the left the scenes of the Transfiguration and the Adoration of the Shepherds, on the right the group of Prophets and Sibyls right next to the ‘judges bench’ which includes a seated statue of Justitia placed between two carved griffins.
Ceiling decoration of the Collegio del Cambio in Perugia by Pietro Perugino (1497-1500). On the vaulting, which consists of two adjoining cross-ribbed vaults, Perugino represented the seven planetary gods on triumphal cars inside deep blue round medallions, the wheels of their cars decorated with the 12 signs of the zodiac; all these was surrounded by a profusely decoration with grotesques making appear the ceiling taller than it actually is.
Ceiling decoration (detail) of the Collegio del Cambio in Perugia, fresco, by Pietro Perugino and assistants (1497-1500). Mercury riding his chariot led by two griffins (with its corresponding zodiacal sign on the wheels – Gemini) is represented in the blue roundel. Surrounded it there’s a profusion of decorative elements.
Famous Men of Antiquity, fresco, by Pietro Perugino, 1497-1500, 293 x 418 cm ( Collegio del Cambio, Perugia). The first compartment represents famous men of antiquity, which are (from left to right) Fabius Maximus, Socrates, Numa Pompilius, Furius Camillus, Pittacus, and Trajan. Above them the Cardinal Virtues Prudentia (left) and Justitia (right) are depicted seated in the clouds. At the right is Perugino’s self-portrait. For this arrangement of the heroes within the compartments, Perugino was inspired by Ghirlandaio’s paintings in the . Sala dei Gigli in Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio
Self-Portrait, fresco, by Pietro Perugino, 1497-1500, 40 x 31 cm ( Collegio del Cambio, Perugia). Perugino immortalized himself in the Collegio del Cambio with an imposing self-portrait. Compared to the idealized depictions of classical heroes on the other walls, Perugino’s portrait is quite realistic and modest. His contemporary clothing and the bust format make it clear that he belongs to a different world than the one represented on the walls.
Famous Men of Antiquity, fresco, by Pietro Perugino, 1497-1500, 291 x 400 cm ( Collegio del Cambio, Perugia). The second group of the famous men of antiquity includes from left to right: Lucius Sicinius, Leonidas, Horatius Cocles, Publius Scipio, Pericles, and Quintus Cincinnatus. Above them the Cardinal Virtues Fortitudo (left) and Temperantia (right) appear seated in the sky. Perugino’s self-portrait is on the left.
Cato, fresco, by Pietro Perugino, 1497-1500, ( Collegio del Cambio, Perugia). On the entry wall, to the left of the first group of Famous Men of Antiquity (see pictures before). Perugino depicted the red-robed figure of the Roman consul Marcus Porcius Cato (234-149 B.C.), a statesman celebrated for his incorruptible virtue. In the accompanying Latin inscription he urges that those required to give speeches or serve as judges set aside their personal feelings such as love and hate.
The Transfiguration of Christ, fresco, by Pietro Perugino, 1497-1500, 226 x 229 cm ( Collegio del Cambio, Perugia).
Nativity, fresco, by Pietro Perugino, 1497-1500, 264 x 225 cm ( Collegio del Cambio, Perugia).
Prophets and Sibyls, fresco, by Pietro Perugino, 1497-1500, 229 x 370 cm ( Collegio del Cambio, Perugia). On the right wall, Perugino represented to the left the group of prophets, from left to right: Isaiah, Moses, Daniel, David, Jeremiah, and Solomon; while to the right he shows us the Sibyls, from left to right: Eritrean, Persian, Cumaean, Libyan, Tiburtine, and Delphian. Each figure is provided with a fragmentary prophecy on an inscription ribbon. Above these groups, God the Father is inside a gloriole surrounded by angels.
One anecdote involving Perugino and Michelangelo had the latter accusing the former as a bungler in art. As a consequence, Perugino then accused Michelangelo of defamation of character, which was unsuccessful. Showing his moral fiber after this incident, Perugino painted his altarpiece for the
Certosa di Pavia, a work that is now disassembled and scattered among museums: the only portion still in the Certosa is . The Annunciation has disappeared; three other panels, Padre eterno benedicente the Virgin adoring the infant Christ, St. Michael and St. Raphael with Tobias are in the National Gallery in London. Between 1507 y 1515, he produced one of his best paintings, the Virgin and Child with Saints Jerome and Francis. In 1504–1507 he painted the Annunziata Altarpiece for the high altar of the Basilica dell’Annunziata in Florence. At the time this work was considered a failure in the basis of its lack of innovation. Perugino lost his students and ca. 1506 he abandoned Florence, going to Perugia, and after one or two years he went to Rome after being called by Pope Julius II to paint the Stanza of the Incendio del Borgo in the Vatican. Julius II soon preferred to give the commission to a younger competitor, his once pupil Raphael. By that time Perugino had painted the ceiling of the Stanza with figures of God the Father and of Jesus in different glories, and after the decision of Julius II he decided to retire to Perugia in 1512.
Certosa di Pavia altarpiece, oil on panel, by Pietro Perugino, ca, 1496-1500 ( Certosa di Pavia monastery, Lombardy, Italy). This altarpiece is a reconstruction of the original one, with the only original panel by Perugino being the center top panel representing the “ Padre eterno benedicente” (see picture below), the two panels flanking it are the Dottori della Chiesa by Bergognone, and the three lower panels are copies of the originals by Perugino, now housed at the National Gallery in London (see picture below). This altarpiece was commissioned by Ludovico Sforza for the chapel of Saint Michael in the Certosa di Pavia monastery.
Padre eterno benedicente, oil on panel, by Pietro Perugino, ca, 1496-1500 ( Certosa di Pavia altarpiece, Certosa di Pavia monastery, Lombardy, Italy).
The three “London” panels from the Certosa di Pavia altarpiece, oil on wood, by Pietro Perugino, 1496-1500 (National Gallery, London). These panels formed the lower part of the Certosa di Pavia altarpiece (see pictures above) commissioned by Ludovico Sforza. The central lower panel shows the Madonna and Child with angels, whilst the left panel shows the archangel Michael trampling Satan and the right panel shows Tobias and Raphael. All three panels seem to have been cut down, since the horizon don’t follow the same level along the three panels; also, the knees of the Madonna and the bag on the left of the central panel are lost, little remains of the serpent at Michael’s feet in the left panel, and the small dog at Raphael’s feet in the right panel was also cut.
The Virgin and Child with Saints Jerome and Francis, oil on wood, by Pietro Perugino, ca. 1507-1515, 185.5 x 152.5 cm (National Gallery, London). The original location of this painting was in a chapel in the church of Santa Maria dei Servi in Perugia. The panel represents (as requested by the commissioners) the Virgin carrying her Son in the middle, and flanked by Saint Jerome dressed as Cardinal and Saint Francis with the stigmata. Perugino added some angels hovering above the Virgin and about to crown her, as it was popular in prints that illustrated books devoted to Mary from the late 15th century.
Deposition from the Cross (also known as the Annunziata polyptych), oil on panel, by Filippino Lippi and Pietro Perugino, 1504–1507, 334 cm × 225 cm ( Galleria dell’Accademia, Florence). At the death of Filippino Lippi in 1504, the execution of this polyptych (originally with six panels) was assigned to Pietro Perugino, who completed the central panel (pictured above), as well as the secondary panels. For this particular panel, it is believed that Lippi executed the upper part of the painting, while Perugino finished Jesus’ face and the lower part of the work, including the distant landscape. Perugino’s assistants painted a great number of details, especially in the side panels (not shown).
Assumption of the Virgin, oil on panel, by Pietro Perugino, c. 1506, 333 x 218 cm (Church of the Santissima Annunziata, Florence). This painting corresponded to the reverse panel of Filippino Lippi‘s Deposition (see picture above) for the Annunziata polyptych.
Frescoes on the ceiling of the Stanza dell’Incendio di Borgo by Pietro Perugino, 1507-1508 ( Palazzi Vaticani, Vatican City). The room was used in the time of Pope Julius II for the meetings of the highest court of the Holy See. The same Pope Julius II commissioned Perugino with the frescoes of the ceiling and that are related to this function. For this purpose, Perugino depicted inside four medallions the Most Holy Trinity (top), the Creator enthroned among angels and cherubs (bottom), Christ as Sol Iustitiae and Christ tempted by the devil (left), and Christ between Mercy and Justice (right).
Perugino’s latest works were characterized by repetitious themes executed in his studio, though he managed to produce the extensive altarpiece (painted between 1512 and 1517) of the church of San Agostino in Perugia, also now dispersed among several collections. In 1521 he painted his last frescoes for the church of the
Madonna delle Lacrime in Trevi, and in 1522 for the church of Castello di Fontignano. While still at Fontignano he died of the plague in 1523. Like other victims of the plague at the time, he was hastily buried in an unconsecrated field and the precise place of his burial is unknown.
Adoration of the Magi, fresco, by Pietro Perugino, 1521-1522, (Church of the Madonna delle Lagrime, Trevi, Umbria). The fresco is signed on the base of the throne and represents the traditional scene of the Adoration of the Magi set within an open landscape.
Perugino had a strong influence on famous painters such as Fra Bartolomeo della Porta and Mariotto Albertinelli, but above all, he influenced his direct disciples, the most famous of them all, Raphael and Bernardino di Betto, called Pinturicchio (1454-1513).
The Nativity: The Virgin, St. Joseph and the Shepherds Adoring the Infant Christ, fresco transferred to canvas, by Pietro Perugino, 1522-1523 (Victoria and Albert Museum, London). This fresco was executed for the Oratory of the Confraternity of the Annunciation in Fontignano near Perugia. The scene illustrates the traditional Nativity of Jesus iconography, with baby Jesus, an ox and a donkey, flying angels, Mary and Joseph, and groups of shepherds. The mountainous landscape recalls the hilly valley of Umbria where Fontignano is located. This is one of the last works painted by Perugino.