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Perugino on display in Bettona

Among the works in the Bettona picture gallery are two paintings attributed to Pietro Vannucci, known as Perugino: St. Anthony of Padua and the Madonna of Mercy with Saints Stephen, Jerome and the patrons. In addition to these, the Gonfalone di Sant’Anna, is probably by a follower of Perugino, and the collection includes works by renowned artists such as Alunno, Tiberio di Assisi and Dono Doni.

St. Anthony of Padua and patrons is painted in tempera on canvas (143 x 68 cm) and shows the Saint standing with his attributes of a book and a flame, against the background of a parapet with a soldier at his feet. An inscription at the bottom reads: BOLO DE MARAGLIA DA PEROGA. QUANDO FO PREGIONE DE FRANCIOSE / CHE FO ADDI XI DE FEBRAIO MDXII PETRUS PINXIT DE CASTRO PLEBLIS. The inscription indicates that this is an ex-voto of Bartolomeo da Maraglia, a condottiere of the Baglioni family. The work, characteristic of the painter's late maturity (1512), is executed in warm, light colours, with soft drawing and good proportions, and presents a compositional scheme repeated in other works by the Umbrian master, such as the Blessed Giacomo della Marca in the National Gallery of Umbria

The Madonna of Mercy (1512-13), is a large panel (201 x 147 cm) depicting the Virgin at the moment when, flanked by two angels, she gathers two saints under her mantle, one of whom (on the right) is Jerome, while the other on the left has been identified as Saint Manno or Saint Marinus. The red of the Virgin’s robe, the green and blue of her mantle and the robes of the angels stand out. The patrons, a woman in a dark robe and a man in grey, depicted praying behind the saints, have not been identified.

Finally, the Gonfalone di Sant’Anna, painted in tempera on wood (198.5x135 cm), is dated to around 1512-13 and attributed to workshop of Perugino. It was kept until the beginning of the 20th century in the village's mother church (Santa Maria Maggiore), and was later transferred to the city museum. Saint Anne, the Madonna and the infant Jesus protect the town of Bettona against the plague; below them are Saint Crispolto and Saint Anthony of Padua. In the background, the Umbrian village can be seen, depicted in an idealised vision. Recently, the hypothesis has been credited that the two saints, the background and the figure of the Madonna were painted by Perugino, while the upper part, which includes the Baby Jesus, St. Anne, Christ and the two monk saints, was completed by one of his followers.

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