Pietro di Cristoforo Vannucci, known as Perugino, Annunciation RanieriC. 1490–1500, Tempera on wood, Private collection
In 2023, the 500th anniversary of the death of Perugino and for the occasion, the Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria – which reopened its doors on 1 July last after a year of work, with a new set-up and two rooms entirely dedicated to the great master – is preparing to celebrate one of the greatest active painters in the last two decades of the fifteenth century.
Scheduled from 4 March to 11 June 2023 the exhibition, entitled “The best teacher of Italy”. Perugino in his time, curated by Marco Pierini, director of the National Gallery of Umbria, and Veruska Picchiarelli, curator of the Perugian museum, will return to the absolute protagonist of the Renaissance the role of artistic pre-eminence that his audience and his era had assigned him at the height of his extraordinary career. Visitors will be able to admire capital proofs of his production prior to 1504.
Pietro Perugino, Adoration of the Magi, 1470-1473, Oil on wood, 180 x 241 cm, Perugia, National Gallery of Umbria
The initiative – which ideally completes the historical and critical analysis project of Perugino’s creative itinerary, which began in 2004 in the Umbrian museum, which boasts the most considerable number of works by the master – will review the fundamental passages of the painter’s path. The itinerary will unfold from the first fundamental collaborations with Andrea del Verrocchio’s workshop – where he was able to work side by side with young talents such as Leonardo da Vinci, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Lorenzo di Credi, Filippino Lippi and, above all, the little more than contemporaneous with Botticelli – to the capital Florentine enterprises that determined his fortune. Among his masterpieces, the three panels already in San Giusto alle Mura, now preserved in the Uffizi Galleries, the extraordinary portraits, the monumental altarpieces, such as the Altarpiece of San Domenico in Fiesole and the Pala Scarani from San Giovanni in Monte to Bologna.
In the exhibition, the visitor will have the opportunity to reflect on the role that Vannucci actually played in the contemporary art scene, on the links with the protagonists of his time, following the movements of the painter or his works through Italy.
The master of Città della Pieve who had the merit of merging the light and monumentality of Piero della Francesca with the naturalism and linear ways of Andrea del Verrocchio, filtering them through the gentle manner of Umbrian painting, left important traces of his teaching in all localities of the peninsula in which he carried out his activity, from north to south, starting from Perugia and Florence, theaters par excellence of his work, as well as the headquarters of his workshops.
Pietro di Cristoforo Vannucci, known as Il Perugino, Madonna and Child in Glory and Saints Michael, Catherine of Alexandria, Apollonia and Giovanni Evangelista (Pala Scarani), about 1500, Oil on wood, Bologna, National Picture Gallery | Courtesy Pinacoteca Nazionale di Bologna, courtesy of the Ministry of Culture
In the frame of the National Gallery of Umbria, giants of the Renaissance like Raffaello and Francesco Francia, but also talented albeit less well-known masters, such as Stefano Sparano from Campania or Macrino d’Alba from Piedmont, will deal with the production of the Umbrian master who has become a fundamental model to look at.
The exhibition represents the flagship event of the centenary celebrations, coordinated by a National Committee, set up by the Ministry of Culture and chaired by Ilaria Borletti Buitoni. Some of the most important national and international museums, such as the Uffizi Galleries in Florence and the National Gallery in Washington, will be involved in a real scientific partnership.