Perugino may have been a pupil of Piero della
late in the i46os, after which he went to Florence and probably worked in the
shop of Verrocchio, where in the early 1470s Leonardo
was also active. He
was in Rome in 1479 and is recorded in the 1481 contract for the frescoes in
the Sistine Chapel (along with Botticelli, Ghirlandaio
and Cosimo Rosselli),
where his Charge to St Peter demonstrates his qualities of simplicity, order and
clearly articulated composition. He seems to have been the leader of the team.
The influence of his friend Signorelli strengthened his draughtsmanship, that
of Flemings like Memlinc suggested the landscape
background for his portraits
as well as their general composition, and to the persistence of Piero's influence
is due the use of architectural and landscape settings for his figure compositions.
The Pieta (Florence, Accad.) set centrally in a receding arcade, and above all
the Crucifixion with Saints (Florence, S.M. Maddalena de' Pazzi), a fresco of
1496 with an extensive landscape linking the three apparent divisions, of the
wall, are perfect examples of his quiet, pietistic art, with gentle, rather sentimental
figures with drooping postures, tip-tilted heads, and mild rounded faces type he repeated all his life with, in his later years, dull and routine
From c.1500 to c.1504 Raphael was a pupil in his shop and may have helped
with the fresco cycle in the Sala del Cambio at Perugia, Perugino's largest (but
not best) work in fresco. Raphael's own early work in S. Severo at Perugia
was later- after his death in 1520 - completed by his master. In 1506 Perugino
retired to Perugia, since his style was now hopelessly outmoded in Florence,
where, however, it had served to counter-balance the confusion of late
Quattrocento style. It was to be the herald of the High Renaissance.
Apart from Rome, Florence and Perugia there are works by him in Baltimore,
Brussels, Cambridge, Cerquetonr Perugia (the earliest work, of 1478), Chicago,
Detroit, Edinburgh, Frankfurt, Liverpool, London (NG), Lyons, Munich,
Nancy, New York (Met. Mus.), Paris (Louvre), Philadelphia and Vienna.
Source: The Penguin Dictionary of Art and Artists (Penguin Reference Books)
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