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ment on it, we also know that he named one of his
own children after the Tuscan sculptor.

But if we can recognise the later weakness of
Perugino, the men who lived in his days and who
openly declared him to be the master of masters
never apparently recognised it. They seem to have
worsliipped his decadence as they had worshipped his
dawn. They paid large sums for the feeble saints
which rose like ghosts beneath his brush. They
desired no better man to save them in the time of
plague and bloodshed by the creation of a S. Sebastian
which they might carry in procession, or a Madonna
that they miglit kneel to. And truly to the end an
ineffable sweetness, a religious amiability, is the under-
current of the master's painting.

Pietro Vannucci died of the plague in the year 1523
at Fontignano, a small village near Perugia, where he had
been called to paint a S. Sebastian in the time of pesti-
lence. He was hurried into some desolate grave under
an oak by the wayside, and he died, as they say, without
faith of immortality, denying to the last that Saviour,
whose face and figure, whose Mother and surroundings,
he, of all men on earth, had striven through life to
idealize.

So writes Vasari, but on this accusation we would
])ause. There may have been some sickness in
Pietro's soul, we feel and see it in his work and
portrait ; but he had lived in terrible times and seen
much evil and striven to ])aint much good. The fact
that he was buried in unconsecrated ground proves

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T'hc Story of Perugia



literally nothing, for an old chronicler, describing the
wretchedness of the times, combined with the terrors
of the plague, tells us, " that such was the state of
affairs, that the dead were paid as little attention to in
those times as in our day we might give to goats or
sheep ; and that especially in the country where no one
attended to anything, all died, almost without excep-
tion, not like men but almost like beasts ; and as the
consecrated ground did not suffice for burial they put the
bodies into ditches, covering them up with a very little
earth." Furthermore, " it was prohibited to visit the
sick, and to attend the funerals of the dead." This
being the case, how was it possible to find the corpse of
one old man in order to lay it in consecrated ground l
Pietro's sons tried hard to find it. We read of them:
of Giambatisto, Francesco and Michaelangelo, search-
ing diligently but in vain for their father's bones, that
they might lay them in the Church of S. Agostino.^

Mariotti the chronicler of Perugino, whose loving
and infinitely careful search has soothed, if it could
not obliterate Vasarl's spiteful words, ends his notes
on Perugino with the following quotation from a Latin
poet : —

•• Se pictus moreris, non morituriis obis."
*****

It was just at the end of the period of Pietro's
prime, namely, about the years 1499 to 1507, that he
was commissioned to paint the walls of the Cambio.
It is interesting to remember that at this time Perugino
was in correspondence with the monks of Orvieto, who
wished him to paint the frescoes in their Duomo. He
had long dallied with his answer, he had certain other

' Since writing the above, we have been shown a very early
MS., which shows that Pietro's bones were taken from the
ditch by a priest and buried under the walls of his church at
Fontignano.
224



The Cambio

large works on hdnd, but when liis fellow-citizens
sent in their request that he should undertake this
very considerable work for them he did not hesitate ;
he threw over his previous engagement, which, as
we know, was magnificently taken up by Signorelli,
and he at once set to work upon the walls of the
Cambio.

Perugino was perhaps out of his element in this new
undertaking. He had no choice of subjects, for they
had been selected for him by the members of the Guild,
who throughout show a most naVve interest and concern
in the decoration of their rooms. These men were de-
termined to secure the very best work they could ; their
scats, their panels, their doors were of the finest wood,
worked by the most skilful carpenters and artists of the
day. They were not wise in literature themselves,
so they applied to the best scholar of their city,
Francesco Matarazzo, for instructions, and it was he
who most probably arranged the curious mixture of
classic subjects and inscriptions which Perugino, with
a certain child-like and ingenuous persistence, painted as
he had painted all the familiar subjects of the Bible.
For the ceiling of the audience chamber, which deals
entirely with mythological figures, he may have con-
sulted certain old illustrated missals in the Perugian
archives; one of these, a Cicero (unhappily stolen from
the library some years ago), very probably suggested
some of the figures and beasts of the Zodiac which
decorate the ceiling.

The impression made upon one by the painting in
the Cambio is very calm and pleasing. The whole is
a harmony^ — a harmony of subjects sacred and profane
such as the classic-loving minds of scholars in the days
of the Renaissance delighted to create, and give to one
of their purely religious artists to carry out success-
p 225



I'he Story of Perugia

fully. The left wall is covered by two frescoes —
two lines of figures — eight Romans and four Greeks.
Behind these figures stretches the fair, calm, TJmbrian
landscape, dear to the heart of the Umbrian painter.
In the sky above them are four female figures, Prudence
and Justice, Fortitude and Temperance, and below
them small angels hold the long inscription which is
written over every group. Very soft and tender is
Perugino's conception of Roman Emperors and Greek
philosophers. They have the hands of women, their
faces are sweet like the faces of saints. They look a
little sad, and very gentle as they bend towards each
other — not one of these men could have proved a
ruler of nations. What did Perugino mean when
he painted in the second group this visionary host of
warriors ? Surely he dreamed of some fair Umbrian
girls that he had met in May along the lanes, but not of
heroes. These youths, with their wonderful head-gear
and their long, limp bodies would have fallen as field
flowers fall before the scythe or even a summer shower.
That they are fair no one denies, and in the face of
Cincinnatus there is a mysterious sweetness which
disarms our criticism; but they are merely spiritual
or imaginative portraits of the men whose names
are carefully inscribed beneath them. The opposite
wall is covered by a group of Prophets and of
Sibyls — a combination which was not uncommon
in later Christian art. To the left Isaiah, Moses,
Daniel, David and Jeremiah, and opposite them the
Persian, Cumaean, Lybian, Tyburtine and Delphic
sibyls. Perugino crowned this most singular mixture
of pagan and of Hebrew figures with a portrait of God
the Father in glory. Many of the faces in this group are
very beautiful, notably that of Daniel, which is said to
be a portrait of young Raphael, and is a truly exquisite
thing. Jeremiah is represented as a young and very
226



The Camb'io

melancholy man, and his tace is said to be a portrait ol
Pinturicchio, but if this fact is true the likeness is much
idealized.

In the two frescoes at the end of the room, namely,
the Nativity and the Transfiguration, Pietro was in his
old and dearer element. The former of these is a
beautiful bit of his best religious work, but it has been
terribly damaged by smoke, as the lamp of the Camblo
used to hang beneath it.

There is some dispute as to whether Pietro worked
alone at these frescoes. It appears almost certain that
he did do so, with the exception, perhaps, of one of
his scholars, I'Ingegno, who is said to have painted the
face of Christ in the Transfiguration. ^ The ceiling,
where the planets are painted in medallions, is perhaps
the work of his school, although the drawings were
entirely supplied by Perugino. Pinturicchio is said to
have helped in the painting, and Raphael doubtless
watched it with delight, and from it drew suggestions
which he carried later to the Vatican. Delightful
animals, dragons, and different birds pull the chariots of
the various planets. The arabesques are infinitely varied,

1 Vliigcgno is a mysterious figure in the school of Perugino.
Our National Gallery has a picture signed A. A. P. (Anurkas
Ai.OYSii Pinxit) which is helieved to be an autlicntic work of
his. We have no distinct records of tilt- man, thoiigli the
pictures ascribed to him are very numerous. The best known
of these are at Assisi. His work and his personality are
a sort of shadow of Perugino. Vasari felt no sort of doubts
aI)OUt I'higegno ; indeed he pronounced him to l)e the best
master of Perugino's school, and vying with Raphael in his
studio. He also tells us that I'lngegno's glory was early
withered by the curse of blindness; this fact has, however,
been disproved by Rumohr, who has made very careful re-
search upon the suliject. Whatever I'Ingegno was, or whatever
he did. one cannot ignore his existence in a survey of the
Umbrian school, and the very fact of the mystery in which he
is shrouded attracts and draws one to him.

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T'he Story of Perugia

and form a study in themselves. Small boys and
cherubs ride astride of dragons or of goats, and strange
fantastic animals turn and twist themselves through
flower stalks and bowls of fruits and flowers. Squirrels,
peacocks, snakes, and many other known and unknown
creatures, cover the arches like enamelled gems.

It is curious to pass from Perugino's frescoes in the
audience chamber of the Cambio to those of his pupil
Giannicola Manni in the chapel of the same guild.
Manni's work is very rare, and indeed it is barely seen
outside Perugia.^ He was a scholar of Perugino, and
in his earlier years he followed in the steps of his
master, but in later life he went to Florence and there
acquired a love for the style of Andrea del Sarto.
The influence of the two distinct schools of painting
is strongly marked in the chapel of the Cambio, the
ceiling of which was painted early in Manni's life, the
walls after his return from Florence. Manni is a
genial and attractive painter. He paints exactly as he
pleases, regardless of religion or of history, and in his
series of scenes from the life of S. John he gives us a
set of luxurious human beings leading a very human
cinque-cento life. The colour is bright, the figures
portraits of the time. The ladies are very decol-
letees, fat, and dressed in comfortable gowns of the
most beautiful stuffs and the simplest cut. One lady in
the Nativity is particularly attractive. She wears a
gorgeous gown ot red ; her fluffy yellow hair is neatly
gathered in a net, embossed with bobs of the purest gold.
S. Elizabeth, too, may be envied the splendour of her
bed, and the looping of its heavy damask curtains.
There is a sense of luxury, a sort of wanton abund-
ance which is almost Venetian, throughout Manni's

1 There is a beautiful bit of his work in the little old church
of S. Martino at Perugia. fSee chapter viii.)
228



The Camb'io

frescoes of the life of S. John. In the banquet scene,
a dog and cat are preparing for a playful battle in the
foreground of the picture. Had tlie Umbrian painter
seen some canvasses of Veronese? Certainly he had
wandered far afield from the eaily teaching which
shows so clear upon the ceiling. He died in 1544,
and most of his work, which we know to have con-
sisted chiefly of banners, is lost to us, lost too, the
painting of the city clock which Mariotti records for
us with such minute precision.'

On leaving the Cambio it would be well to look in
at the Magistrate's audience chamber which opens on
to the Corso two doors further on. It is a magnificent
piece of Renaissance woodwork where every inch is
exquisitely carved and finished. Perugia is rich in
rare and lovely carvings, but nowhere more than in this
single hall.

' For account of tlie Camhio sec Sturia arthtica del dimlnu Ji
Fcriigia by Adamo Rossi. For account of Perugino".s life and
work see 'W'. .1. Stillman's notes in Oh/ Ilnlim Muiters, en-
graved by 'I'imothy CoK-.



229



CHAPTER X
The P'lnacoteca^

'• . . . Parmi de pareilles moeurs, les ames se maintiennent
vivantes. et le sol est tout lalioure pour faire germer les arts.
. . . Mais quel contraste entre ces arts et ces mcEurs ! "

H. Taine, " Perouse et Assise," Voyage en Italie.

T^HERE is perhaps no gallery in Europe as single-
minded- — as devoted to one set of men — as the
gallery at Perugia. In passing through its separate
rooms one feels none of that painful sense of clash
and strain produced by a mixture of different schools,
which haunts one in so many collections of statues
or of pictures ; and the most tired and indifferent
traveller will feel something soothed and softened
in his brain before he turns his back upon the quiet
sacred pictures of the Umbrian masters.

In no land perhaps, and in no school of art, was the
feeling of the painters more purely and more absolutely
religious than in the land of Umbria. The saints were
painted for places where saints were worshipped ; the
Christs have the love of the Father in their faces ; the
Marys are Mothers of pity and of grace ; the bishops
have )-enounced the ways of earth — their faces are calm
and grey beneath their mitres. And the Umbrian

1 There is a good Italian catalogue to the gallery by Signor
Angelo Lupatelli, and the same author has composed a use-
ful and comprehensive guide to the art of Perugia : Storia delta
Pltiura in Perugia.
230



T'he Pinacoteca

angels are crowned with roses, but they are the roses
of Paradise, and not the flowers of earth and of her
banquets. Think of the galleries of Venice, of Boni-
fazio's Dives, and the glorious women of Titian ;
think of the Roman collections, of Bologna and
Guercino ; nay, even think of the later art of Florence,
and then come back to these calm Umbrian masters.
The gap is wide ; the one is full of the passion and
splendour of earth, the other of the sentiment of
heaven.

In M. Rio's chapters on the Umbrian school {T Art
Chretien, vol. ii.), he dwells at length on the purely
spiritual tendency of the Umbrian school, and to
enforce this he points out two of its most remarkable
characteristics ; firstly he remarks that the Umbrian
painters rarely painted portraits, and secondly, he gives
an account of one of their chief products, namely,
the painting of the gonfalone or banner.

We have seen in the history how the inhabitants
of Perugia, driven to desperation by their own wicked-
ness, would take fits of the most passionate religious
revolt, and, casting aside the vanities of the flesh,
half kill themselves with cords and stripes and
lamentations. This excess of repentance took dif-
ferent forms. Sometimes, as we know, it resulted in
an appeal to the saints through wild, mad litanies ; at
others in an appeal to Christ's mercy through art ; and
it was at such times that the Umbrian school, beginning
with Bonfigli and ending in works like Raphael's
Sistine Madonna and Baroccio's much later designs,
painted the gonfalone, a style of picture which is quite
peculiar to Umbria, and which should be looked at with
a knowledge of the events from which it first originated.
These banners were carried about the city, the i)riests
walking in front, the populace behind, a wail and sliriek
of lamentation falling on the air as the procession passed.

231



The Story of Perugia

Sometimes, as in the banner of Bonfigli at S. Fiorenzo,
a poem of supplication to God would be painted, up-
held by angels, on the banner itself, with passionate
words of prayer upon it. It is difficult to render into
English the palpitating style of the original verses, but
we quote some passages to illustrate the sentiment which
inspired the painting of the gonfalone of S. Fiorenzo
(the date of the banner is about 1476) :

'• Oh. most obstinate and wicked people — cruel, proud, and
full of all iniquity, who hast placed thy faith and thy desires on
things vvhicli are full of a mortal misery. I. the angel of Heaven,
am sent unto you from God to tell you that he will put an end
to all your wounds and weeping, your ruin and your curse,
through the mediation of Mary. . . . Turn, turn your eyes,
most miserable mortals, to the great examples of the past and
present, to the utter miseries and heavy evils which Heaven
sends to you because of all your sins : your homicide and your
adultery, your avarice and luxury. . . . O, miserable beings,
the justice of heaven works not in a hurry, but it punishes
always, even as men deserve. . . . Nineveh was a city florid
and magnificent, and Babylon was likewise, but now they are
as nothing ; and Sodom and Gomorrah, behold them now — a
morass of sulphur and of fetid waters. . . . Oh, therefore be
grateful, and acknowledge the benefits and graces of Our
Saviour, and let your souls burn hotly with the fire of faith
and charity, of hope and faithful love. . . . But, and if you
should again grow slothful and unwilling to renounce your
errors, I foretell a second judgment upon you, and I reckon
that it will prove more terrible, more cruel than the first. ..."

The gonfalone on which this menacing appeal of the
angel of God is painted is by Bonfigli, and was made
at the time of a terrible pestilence which raged through
Perugia at the end of the fifteenth century.

In Umbria therefore, more than in most countries,
the history of her art should be studied side by side
with the history of the times in which it was produced,
for the one was, as it were, the spiritual escape or
reaction from the other. The art of Umbria was
perhaps only another form of that spirit which produced
232



The Pmacoteca

the teaching of S. Francis. Tlic lirst pictures of
Perugia arc full of man's best prayers, the earliest of
them bear his stripes, in very few can we detect his
wantonness or humour ; and when we say that the later
ones are imbued with man's weakness, or at least
his sentimentality, we make a most apparent platitude.
It is sufficient in this place to note that whatever the
final faults of the school, it originated in a purpose
that was pure — the purpose of men who strove to
represent tiie very o])posite of all that fury, blood, and
passion peculiar to the time and place in which they
lived and painted.

To most people, therefore, who once have grasped
these facts, there will be something sad, nay, even
offensive, in the Pinacoteca at Perugia. Why, and
for whom, were these purely religious paintings torn
from their niches in the quiet churches, and hung up,
side by side, in a glare of light on the walls of a
gallery ? How pale, and how sad they look, after all,
the saints and the Marys, the angels and the holy
Child, here on the bare grey walls. The thing has
been said a hundred times before, but a friend at
Perugia said it to us in a way we have never forgotten.
He was a priest, and he loved his church. We were
discussing together the present system of local picture
galleries. His eyes grew dark. "Yes," he said, "it
is as though they would tear a child from the breasts
of its mother. The mother withers and dies, and the
child dies too, without her care in the wilderness where
they laid it."

It is the student of art who profits by the present
arrangement, for the pictures at Perugia are not
difficult to find. With the exception of the
Duomo and S. Pietro, most of the churches have
been ransacked, and their canvasses and panels

233



The Story of Perugia

neatly stored in perfect order of dates and names on
the walls of the Pinacoteca, and it is an easy matter,
even in a quiet morning's stroll, to follow here the rise
and fall of Umbrian art. In the limited space before
us it will not be possible to give anything but a
skeleton sketch of the school of Perugino. Larger
works contain abundant store of facts about this par-
ticular centre of Italian art ; but if one only shuts
one's eyes and dreams of it, the three great names start
up before one : Pietro Vanucci, Raphael, and Pin-
turicchio. Close upon these follow other names ;
some, and these perhaps the fairest and most charm-
ing, rise like the dawn behind them : Ottaviano
Nelli, Bonfigli, and Fiorenzo di Lorenzo. The
])upils follow after Manni, Lo Spagna, Eusebio di
S. Giorgio, I'Ingegno, Sinibaldo Ibi, Tiberio d'Assisi
and a host of others, who die at last, feeble, but
not utterly degraded, in the works of the two
Alfanis.

An easy-going historian of Perugia summed up the
earliest stages of her art in the following sentence : " I
have not been able to discover that Perugia had any
painters before the time of Bonfigli, but even if she had
them, they will not have been worthy of mention."
The assertion was sweeping, and later writers have
taken pains to contradict it, but for those who have
only time for a superficial and general study of Perugian
pictures it yet holds a good deal of truth. No great
original work (with the exception of the missal
workers, in which style of art Perugia is very rich) is
left to us from the hand of a Perugian artist before the
time of Bonfigli, and the early history of her art may
be said to have been a great deal that of outside influ-
ences, for from very early times the best and greatest
masters appear, like foreign tribes before them, to have
234



'The Pinacoteca

climbed the hill and left some subtle marks upon
her churches. 1

As the School of Siena died, that of Umbria awoke
to life. Close upon the heels of Matteo da Siena and
ot Taddeo Bartoli, those men followed who were born
to precede the School of Perugino. Before them there
were around Perugia only phantoms : stiff saints on
panels and on parchment, without dates, ghosts of un-
attained, though dimly felt, ideals — a scattered flock
of" primitives," left here and there on chapel walls or
psalters. Then gradually, all through Umbria and
her border lands, in a steady circle of glory, like
the stars on a summer night, the lights arose and
burned. At Gubbio, Camerino, Foligno, Gualdo,
Fabriano, and Urbino we trace their steady progress
through the work of men like Nelli, Piero della Fran-
cesca, Gentile da Fabriano, Niccolo Alunno, and many
others. And as these stars arose great comets travelled
through them — Giotto, Fra Angelico, Benozzo Goz-
zoli, Filippo Lippi, and others, till the whole sky was
full. Then from the centre, straight from the hill of
Citta della Pieve — there rose Pictro Perugino, and to his
school came one with the halo of pure art upon his fore-
head, — -Raphael Sanzio of Urbino.

The following notes on the Pinacoteca and its
pictures may be of use to anyone who requires a few
more details than a guide-book can supply. They
pretend to be nothing like a serious criticism, for the
history of art is long and the books about it full ; in most
of them the art of Umbria is freely treated. We have

1 Two fine portraits in the Palazzo Baldeschi are attributed
to Velasquez, but tliere is little proot' that tlie Sixinish painter
really came to paint them. Anotlier beautiful picture — tlie
property of Count Meniconi Braceschi, at Perugia — is attri-
buted to Filippo Lippi, but is more probably the work of Neri
di Bicci.



The Story of Perugia

gleaned our notes about the painters of Perugia from
such sources as Vasari (who, however, is often pre-
judiced), Crowe and Cavalcaselle, and several local
works. Any personal gossip has been drawn from the
ever delightful works of Mariotti, whose words, if they
be now and then a little antiquated, are as trustworthy
as those of a faithful student's only can be. We have
dealt chiefly with the work of the Umbrian painters, and
indeed, with the exception of Fra Angelico's panels and
those of some of the Sienese masters, there is little else
to study in this small and charming gallery.

The Umbrian School followed close upon that of
Siena, and the Gallery of Perugia has some fine bits
of Sienese work, notably some panels by Taddeo
Bartoli (1363- 1 422) in Sala IV. This room has
some other good panels of early masters— of masters
who probably influenced the Perugians, but whose
names are lost to us.^^

Room I.

Sala del Cimel'ii.

The first room in the gallery is devoted to the very
earliest art of Siena and Umbria,and is one of those rather
painful collections of pictures which we find in every
local Italian gallery — a room of the primitive painters —
which are, as the narrow path of art, beset with many
thorns, where only those who passionately love the goal


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