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Art in Umbria

Perugino tells us about the Nativity

The mastery of the artist in his depictions of the Christian event with the most symbolic value

Refined Renaissance masterpieces to admire: this artistic journey will take you to discover the Nativity and enjoy the scenic beauty of Umbria.

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Città della Pieve

We are in the artist’s hometown, at the Oratory of Santa Maria dei Bianchi, where the large fresco with The Adoration of the Magi, painted by Vannucci in 1504, is preserved. A work characterized by perfect perspective plays and the sweetness that unites the faces portrayed in the paintings. The story of the adoration is depicted in one of the vastest landscapes devised by the artist, that is, the ideal representation of a view stretching from Città della Pieve to Trasimeno and the Val di Chiana.

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Perugia

The National Gallery of Umbria houses one of the Umbrian painter’s most famous works, The Adoration of the Magi (1470 - 1473; 1476). The brilliance and vividness of the colours that characterize the altarpiece is due to the oil technique with which it was painted and the influence of works from Flanders that Perugino had the opportunity to see in those years in Florence. On the left, in the procession of the Magi, a young man in a red cap is depicted looking at the audience to restore a sense of naturalness to the scene; this is Perugino’s self-portrait. The comet star shines in the sky; the artist had a chance to see one with a very long tail in 1472.

In the same Palazzo dei Priori, the Nativity (or Adoration of the Child), included in the cycle of frescoes painted by Perugino at the height of his success with the help of his pupil Raphael, can be admired in the Sala delle Udienze del Nobile Collegio del Cambio.

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Trevi

In the Shrine of the Madonna delle Lacrime one can admire The Adoration of the Magi (1521), a reworking of the work created in the Oratory of Santa Maria dei Bianchi. The use of preparatory cartoons (a technique much used by Perugino to reproduce a drawing over and over again) is easily traced by some signs used for their placement. The fresco was painted late in life, when his pupil Raphael was becoming his competitor. A number of pupils worked in Trevi; probably Perugino devoted himself mainly to the right side where the quality, the sweetness of the faces and the iridescent effect of some of the fabrics and shadows achieve truly sublime results. The throne platform bears the artist’s signature written in capital letters.

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Montefalco

We find another Perugino Nativity (1503) in Montefalco, in the Church of San Francesco, in an aedicule located on the right side of the counter-façade. The now mature artist, after working for many important patrons including the Pope who had called him to Rome to paint the Sistine Chapel, had returned to Umbria. The fresco has as its subject three scenes framed by faux architecture to render the depth of the scenes: the Annunciation at the top, God in Glory among angels, and lower down, in the foreground, the Nativity scene, in which Jesus is surrounded by a green landscape that behind him opens into a wide horizon.

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