Perugino (Pietro Vannucci)

views updated


The leading Umbrian painter at the close of the fifteenth century, best known as Raphael's teacher; b. Città del Pieve, c. 1448; d. Fontignano, 1523. He is recorded as a pupil of the Umbrian artist Piero della Francesca and

of the Florentine Verrocchio and by 1472 was a member of the Florentine painters' guild. Of his most important commission, for frescoes and an altarpiece for the Sistine Chapel, all but the "Delivery of the Keys" (148182, Vatican) were destroyed. Here the balanced symmetry and lucid arrangement of figures in relation to architecture are clearly the legacy of Piero della Francesca. A mural of the "Crucifixion" within a triple arcade (149396; S. Maria Maddalena dei Pazzi, Florence) shows gentle figures placed in a serene, expansive landscape, which serves to unify the painting. Perugino was at the height of his powers from about 1495, executing the fresco cycle of the Sala del Cambio, Perugia, between 1496 and 1500. Raphael seems to have spent a year with Perugino from 1499, and the work of the two artists can be distinguished only with difficulty at that period. By 1506 Perugino's style was outdated, and he retired to Perugia. In his late paintings the figures with their tilted heads became repetitive and sentimental. The young Raphael is nevertheless indebted to him for his idealized types and classical serenity.

Bibliography: e. camesasca, Tutta la pittura del Perugino (Milan 1959). r. wittkower, "Young Raphael," Bulletin of the Dudley Peter Allen Memorial Art Museum of Oberlin College 20 (1963) 150168.

[m. m. schaefer]