Titolo: Perugino in Spello

Perugino in Spello

Inside the splendid church of Santa Maria Maggiore in Spello, on the two pillars flanking the apse, are two works by Pietro Vannucci, known as "Perugino", that have been moved here from unknown locations. On the left is the Pietà, St. John the Evangelist, and Mary Magdalene, and on the right the Madonna and Child, St. Catherine of Alexandria and St. Blaise.

Pietà, St. John the Evangelist, and Mary Magdalene is one of the painter’s last works and dated 1421. It was commissioned from Perugino by a certain Michelangelo Andine, whose name appears on the inscription. On a throne, at whose feet is written the name of the commissioner, sits the Madonna with elderly features, dressed in a blue cloak over a lilac robe and a white petticoat. She holds Christ in her arms, who seems almost collected within himself. From the throne hang two tags bearing his signature. On either side are two mourning cherubs, set in an idealized late Renaissance landscape. The Madonna is flanked by St. John with clasped hands and wearing a blue robe under a fuchsia cloak, and by St. Mary Magdalene, in a similar cloak and green robe. She too has her hands joined but appears to have just laid incense at Christ's feet. The painter was suffering from vision problems and one notices, especially in the background, the absence of the classic details typical of this artist.

The second work, Madonna and Child, St. Catherine of Alexandria and St. Blaise, also from 1421, was commissioned by a certain Giovanni Bernardelli as described by the inscription on the throne, ''EXPE(NS)IS IOANNE BERNARDELLI / AD MDXXI DIE XXV APRILIS''.
St. Catherine is easily recognizable, dressed in royal robes to emphasize her noble origin and holding in her hand a palm frond, a symbol of martyrdom.

St. Blaise, another martyred saint, appears on the left with the typical episcopal insignia, mitre and crosier, and shows in his right hand the iron carding comb with which he was tortured.

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