Agnolo Bronzino

Agnolo Gaddi

Ambrogio Lorenzetti

Andreadi di Bonaiuto

Andrea del Castagno

Andrea del Sarto

Andrea di Bartolo

Andrea Mantegna

Antonello da Messina

Antonio del Pollaiuolo

Bartolo di Fredi

Bartolomeo di Giovanni

Benozzo Gozzoli

Benvenuto di Giovanni

Bernard Berenson

Bernardo Daddi

Bianca Cappello

Bicci di Lorenzo

Bonaventura Berlinghieri

Buonamico Buffalmacco

Byzantine art

Cimabue

Dante

Dietisalvi di Speme

Domenico Beccafumi

Domenico di Bartolo

Domenico di Michelino

Domenico veneziano

Donatello

Duccio di Buoninsegna

Eleonora da Toledo

Federico Zuccari

Filippino Lippi

Filippo Lippi

Fra Angelico

Fra Carnevale

Francesco di Giorgio Martini

Francesco Pesellino

Francesco Rosselli

Francia Bigio

Gentile da Fabriano

Gherarducci

Domenico Ghirlandaio

Giambologna

Giorgio Vasari

Giotto di bondone

Giovanni da Modena

Giovanni da San Giovanni

Giovanni di Francesco

Giovanni di Paolo

Giovanni Toscani

Girolamo di Benvenuto

Guidoccio Cozzarelli

Guido da Siena

Il Sodoma

Jacopo del Sellaio

Jacopo Pontormo

Lippo Memmi

Lippo Vanni

Lorenzo Ghiberti

Lorenzo Monaco

Lo Scheggia

Lo Spagna

Luca Signorelli

masaccio

masolino da panicale

master of monteoliveto

master of sain tfrancis

master of the osservanza

matteo di giovanni

memmo di filippuccio

neroccio di bartolomeo

niccolo di segna

paolo di giovanni fei

paolo ucello

perugino

piero della francesca

piero del pollaiolo

piero di cosimo

pietro aldi

pietro lorenzetti

pinturicchio

pontormo

sandro botticelli

sano di pietro

sassetta

simone martini

spinello aretino


taddeo di bartolo

taddeo gaddi

ugolino di nerio

vecchietta

 

             
 
Luca Signorelli, selfportrait,, fresco of the Deeds of the Antichrist (c.1501) in Orvieto Cathedral


Travel guide for Tuscany
       
   

Luca Signorelli (1445 – 1523)



   
Luca Signorelli was an Italian Renaissance painter who was noted in particular for his ability as a draughtsman and his use of foreshortening. His massive frescoes of the Last Judgment (1499–1503) in Orvieto Cathedral are considered his masterpiece. Signorelli worked in Rome from 1478–1484. He assisted in the decoration of the lower walls of the Sistine Chapel. The Testament of Moses is almost entirely of his hand. In the latter year he returned to his native Cortona, which remained from this time his home. In the Monastery of Monte Oliveto Maggiore (Siena) he painted eight frescoes, forming part of a vast series of the life of St. Benedict; they are at present much injured.

Luca Signorelli was active in various cities of central Italy, notably Arezzo, Florence, Orvieto, Perugia, and Rome. According to Vasari, Signorelli was a pupil of Piero della Francesca and this seems highly probable on stylistic grounds, for his solid figures and sensitive handling of light echo the work of the master. Signorelli differed from Piero della Francesca, however, in his interest in the representation of action, which put him in line with contemporary Florentine artists.

He executed various sacred pictures, showing a study of Botticelli and Lippo Lippi. Pope Sixtus IV commissioned Signorelli to paint some frescoes, now mostly very dim, in the shrine of Loreto — Angels, Doctors of the Church, Evangelists, Apostles, the Incredulity of Thomas and the Conversion of St Paul. He also executed a single fresco in the Sistine Chapel in Rome, the Acts of Moses. Another, Moses and Zipporah, which has been usually ascribed to Signorelli, is now recognized as the work of Perugino.

The wall paintings of the Sistine Chapel are among the most important examples of the type of painting developed in Florence in the later fifteenth century. The five artists brought to Rome to execute them were Botticelli, Ghirlandaio and Rosselli from Florence, Perugino from Umbria and Luca Signorelli from Cortona.
Signorelli worked in Rome from 1478–1484. He assisted in the decoration of the lower walls of the Sistine Chapel. The Testament of Moses is almost entirely of his hand. In the latter year he returned to his native Cortona, which remained from this time his home.
In the Monastery of Monte Oliveto Maggiore (Siena) he painted eight frescoes, forming part of a vast series of the life of St. Benedict. The two last frescoes of the Monte Oliveto series indicate that an immense force lay in reserve, waiting an opportunity for some wider and freer field of action, than had hitherto presented itself. That opportunity now came, when, at the age of fifty-nine, he was called upon to undertake the vast work of these Orvieto frescoes. From the Monastery of Monte Oliveto Maggiore, Signorelli went to Orvieto, where he painted a magnificent series of six frescoes illustrating the end of the world and the Last Judgement (1499-1504), in the chapel of S. Brizio (then called the Cappella Nuova), in the cathedral. The Cappella Nuova already contained images in the vaulting over the altar by Fra Angelico, who had begun the murals fifty years earlier. The works of Signorelli in the vaults and on the upper walls represent the events surrounding the Apocalypse and the Last Judgment. The work is entirely the product of Signorelli's powerful imagination, though, of course, he was influenced by literary sources - Gospels, Apocryphal Gospels, Golden Legend, and Dante's Divine Comedy.The events of the Apocalypse fill the space which surrounds the entrance into the large chapel.
In the grand and dramatic scenes in Orvieto, inspired by the Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri, he displayed a mastery of the nude in a wide variety of poses surpassed at that time only by Michelangelo. Perhaps the most interesting is the enigmatic seated nude youth in Signorelli's Last Acts and Death of Moses in the Sistine Chapel, which is remarkably close to some of the Ignudi painted by Michelangelo on the ceiling of the chapel a quarter of a century later.

By the end of his career, however, Luca had become a conservative artist, working in provincial Cortona, where his large workshop produced numerous altarpieces. In 1520 Signorelli went with one of his pictures to Arezzo. He was partially paralysed when he began a fresco of the Baptism of Christ in the chapel of Cardinal Passerini's palace near Cortona, which (or else a Coronation of the Virgin at Foiano) is the last picture of his specified.
 


Luca Signorellli, self portrait (on the left) with Fra Angelico in the San Brizio Chapel, Orvieto

 


Portrait of Luca Signorelli (left) and the chamberlain Niccolò d'Agnolo Franchi

The portraits, as identified by the inscription at the bottom, are Luca Signorelli, who painted the frescoes in the San Brizio Chapel between 1499 and 1504, and the chamberlain Niccolò d'Agnolo, in office during that time.[3]

 

   
   
   
Cortona

   
The predella of the altarpiece depicts me Agony in the Garden, the Last Supper, the Arrest of Christ, and the Flagellation.

The central group of the Virgin Mary, the dead Christ and a holy woman who kisses his hand have been correctly related to the very similar group at Orvieto (Fig. 58/20 on p. 204). It is now certain that these figures derive from me same cartoon and were used first in Cortona, and subsequently at Orvieto. The fame of this altarpiece, which Vasari described in 1550 as held to be a beautiful thing and worthy of great praise, resulted in various other variants. In 1505 Signorelli was commissioned to paint the high altarpiece for the church of Sant'Agostino at Matélica (Cats. 65-9) "just as he has painted and perfected the high altarpiece of the church of Santa Margherita in Cortona". The fresco at Castiglion Fiorentino (Cat. 72) also derives from the Cortona Lamentation.

"The expressive pathos of the picture has sometimes been related to Vasari's tragic description of how Signorelli stripped and drew me lifeless body of his son without shedding a tear. Some commentators have gone further and suggested that the figure of Christ in this picture was based on this posthumous study. While there may be a grain of truth in Vasari's anecdote (which Vasari introduced as local hearsay), mere are problems with connecting it to the Cortona Lamentation. Signorelli's son Antonio was alive in February 1502, when mis picture was completed, but he died-almost certainly of the plague-in the summer of 1502. One possibility is that Antonio was me model for me figure of Christ in this painting, and mat Vasari's pathetic anecdote was an accretion that followed Antonio Signorelli's death and me contemporary "unveiling" of Signorelli's altarpiece. [1]

This work seems to be straining to escape from the cruel and tragic style of the Last Judgment of Orvieto and the Lamentation of Cortona, in order to imitate the sweet tones of the airy architecture of Raphael and the new sixteenth-century school.

The iconography of this panel is very unusual. The apostles, some standing, some on their knees, surround Christ to receive the consecrated Host. This contrasts with the traditional way in which the apostles are represented, seated around a set table. A classical structure functions as a background. The work reminds one of the rhythmic works of Perugino and seems to imitate Raphael's School of Athens. The figure of Judas is stupendous; he is leaning to one side hiding the Host in his bag with a look that shows the painful realization of his betrayal.


 
Communion of the Apostles (detail), 1512, Museo Diocesano, Cortona

Luca Signorelli, Lamentation over the Dead Christ, scene from the predella The Flagellation, 1502, Museo Diocesano, Cortona


The Lamentation over the Dead Christ in its original arrangement, mounted in an antique frame with pillars in which were represented seven saints, once enriched the scenography of the high altar of the ancient church of St Margaret in Cortona. This was surely admired by Pope Leo X when, during a stop on his way to Bologna to meet Francis I of France, he visited the church in 1515. In the second half of the 1700s the painting was moved, deprived of its frame, and finally placed in the choir of the cathedral of its origin.

"The expressive pathos of the picture has sometimes been related to Vasari's tragic description of how Signorelli stripped and drew me lifeless body of his son without shedding a tear. Some commentators have gone further and suggested that the figure of Christ in this picture was based on this posthumous study. While there may be a grain of truth in Vasari's anecdote (which Vasari introduced as local hearsay), mere are problems with connecting it to the Cortona Lamentation. Signorelli's son Antonio was alive in February 1502, when mis picture was completed, but he died-almost certainly of the plague-in the summer of 1502. One possibility is that Antonio was me model for me figure of Christ in this painting, and mat Vasari's pathetic anecdote was an accretion that followed Antonio Signorelli's death and me contemporary unveiling of Signorelli's altarpiece. [1]

The Lamentation, a work done entirely the artist alone, reveals all the poetry of the painter even in the context of an unrefined style which may seem declamatory, scenic and rhetorical. In the predella that Signorelli probably painted with the help of his assistant, Gerolamo Genga, four scenes from the Passion of Christ are represented: The Prayer in the Garden, The Last Supper, The Capture and The Flagella tion.

 


Lamentation over the Dead Christ (detail), 1502, Museo Diocesano, Cortona



Luca Signorelli’s Communion of the Apostles depicts the moment in which Christ administers his body and blood to the Apostles.
The iconography of this panel is very unusual. The apostles, some standing, some on their knees, surround Christ to receive the consecrated Host. This contrasts with the traditional way in which the apostles are represented, seated around a set table. A classical structure functions as a background. The work reminds one of the rhythmic works of Perugino and seems to imitate Raphael's School of Athens. The figure of Judas is stupendous; he is leaning to one side hiding the Host in his bag with a look that shows the painful realization of his betrayal.

 

Luca Signorelli, Communion of the Apostles, 1512, panel 232 x 220 cm, Museo Diocesano, Cortona

A further work by Signorelli can be found in the unassuming Chiesa di San Nicolo. Climbing from Piazza della Repubblica on Via Santucci and then Via Berrettini brings you into the upper town. Beyond a cypress-lined courtyard, is the 15th century Chiesa di San Nicolò. The unassuming 15th-century church has a small porch with slender columns. Ring the bell on the left-hand side wall, and the caretaker will take you to Signorelli's double-sided altarpiece, revealed by a neat hydraulic system that swivels the picture away from the wall.
In 1440 Saint Bernardino of Siena founded the Compagnia di San Niccolò there. The high altar conserves the standard of the compagnia which was painted on both sides by Luca Signorelli. The front represents the Deposition of Christ surrounded by angels and saints. On the back is the Madonna and Child enthroned between Saints Peter and Paul. On the left wall, Signorelli's fresco of the Madonna, Child and Saints on the left is reminiscent of his more famous work in Orvieto.

 

Compianto sul Cristo morto tra angeli e santi
(1516 circa), Cortona, chiesa di San Niccolò

The Renaissance palace Palazzo Passerini (called Il Palazzone) is located outside the massive ancient town walls of Cortona. The interior is composed of a spacious, arcaded courtyard with a central well. Opposite the courtyard from the entrance there is the Chapel, with Luca Signorelli's Baptism of Christ, in unfortunately bad condition. Vasari wrote of this painting that Signorelli “was not able to finish it because he died while he was working on it”.

 

   
Orvieto

   
Luca Signorelli | Fresco Cycle in the San Brizio Chapel, Cathedral, Orvieto
Luca Signorelli, Chapel of San Brizio, Duomo, Orvieto


The decoration of the San Brizio chapel in the Orvieto Cathedral.started in 1447 by Fra Angelico and Benozzo Gozzoli, who executed two compositions (Christ the Judge and Prophets) on the vaults. [1] The commission was only revived at the end of the century. The painter Luca Signorelli was chosen thanks to his fame as a fast executor. In only three years, from 1499 to 1502, the decoration was planned and executed, with a speed and efficiency that is practically unique in the history of Italian art.
His massive frescoes of the Last Judgment (1499–1503) in Orvieto Cathedral are considered his masterpiece. In the grand and dramatic scenes, inspired by the Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri, Luca Signorelli displayed a mastery of the nude in a wide variety of poses surpassed at that time only by Michelangelo.

As far as the subject matter is concerned, it is one of the most important subjects of Christian iconography. It is likely that for the ceiling frescoes (the groups of Apostles, Angels, Patriarchs, Doctors of the Church, Martyrs and Virgins) Signorelli simply completed the programme that had originally been devised by Fra Angelico. But the frescoes on the side walls, although the basic subject would have been planned in accordance with the Cathedral's administrators and theologians, are wholly the product of Signorelli's fertile imagination. The side walls are covered with seven large scenes:
the Sermon and Deeds of the Antichrist, the Destruction of the World, the Resurrection of the Flesh, the Damned, the Elect, the Paradise and the Hell.
The lower part of the walls is decorated with grotesque patterns and with busts of philosophers and poets alongside monochromes commenting their works, as well as illustrations from the Divine Comedy.

Sermon and Deeds of the Antichrist is the masterpiece of the whole cycle (at least in terms of originality of invention and evocation of fantastic imagery) even Signorelli himself must have realized, and he has placed himself, together with a monk (traditionally identified as Fra Angelico) on the lefthand side of the composition.
The account of the Apocalypse then continues with three large scenes, the Resurrection of the Flesh, the Damned and the Elect, and two smaller ones on either side of the chapel's window, Paradise and Hell.
It is primarily in this section of the fresco cycle that Signorelli has given free rein to his inventive genius. An inventiveness that, as Berenson said, made him one of the greatest of modern illustrators, and thanks to which his art is still an extremely important part of our figurative heritage. Despite the rhetorical devices, the theatrical ruses and the occasional contrived details, despite the limitations in his draughtsmanship and use of colour recognized by all modern critics, there is no denying that never before in Italian art had figurative ideas of such unforgettable power been used. Viewed all together the huge frescoes in the Orvieto chapel give an impression of overcrowding and of confusion which is far from pleasing. We have to isolate the individual details in order to grasp the greatness of Signorelli the 'illustrator' and the 'inventor' and therefore justify Berenson's statement. See, for example, in the Resurrection of the Flesh, the macabre but hilarious idea of the nude with his back to the observer who is carrying on a conversation with the skeletons; or the skulls surfacing through the cracks in the ground, who put on their bodies as though they were a costume, and become human beings once again.

 


Luca Signorelli, Resurrection of the Flesh (detail), fresco in the Chapel of San Brizio, Duomo, Orvieto


The Deeds of the Antichrist
(detail). Orvieto Cathedral, San Brizio Chapel, Orvieto

The lower parts of the walls are executed as decorative panels. In the center of each panel is a portrait of a poet or a philosopher – Dante, Virgil, Ovid, Horace, Lucian, Homer and Empedocles. Each portrait is surrounded by four tondos with the scenes from their works.
In his most celebrated work the Divine Comedy, Dante narrates a journey through Hell and Purgatory, guided by Virgil, and finally to Paradise, guided by Beatrice. The Divine Comedy gives an encyclopedic view of the highest culture and knowledge of the age all expressed in the most exquisite poetry. It was highly appreciated both by his contemporaries and following generations. Many artists took the subjects from the Divine Comedy for their paintings.

[read more]




Luca Signorelli, detail from Dante with Scenes from the Divine Comedy, San Brizio Chapel, Duomo, Orvieto
Abbazia di Monte Oliveto Maggiore | Asciano



   
Luca Signorelli, Come Benedetto dice alli monaci dove e quando avevano mangiato fuori dal monastero (dettaglio), Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore

     
In Chiusura, five miles south of Asciano, in the province of Siena, the Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore, an imposing monastic compound featuring the famous cycle of frescoes Le storie di Benedetto by Luca Signorelli and Antonio Bazzi, called Il Sodoma, an ingenious artist from Piedmont who lived at the turn of the 16th century.
The abbey was founded in 1319 by three Senese noblemen, Bernardo Giovanni Tolomei, Patrizio Patrizi and Ambrogio Piccolomini, who decided to give up their wealth and privileges in favour of living according to the rule of St Benedict.
The abbey boasts three 15th century cloisters, of which the most magnificent is the rectangular Chiostro Grande, constructed between 1426 and 1443. It is made up of two walkways one above the other, supported by columns. The portico is decorated with a fresco cycle depicting the life of St Benedict by Luca Signorelli, who began work on its 36 large scenes in 1497. The cycle was finished in 1508 by Sodoma. The Chiostro Centrale is composed of a portico that rests on polygonal columns that lead to the magnificent Refectory, decorated with frescoes by Fra’ Paolo Novelli.

From the Monastery of Monte Oliveto Maggiore near Siena, Signorelli went to Orvieto, and produced his masterpiece, the frescoes in the chapel of S. Brizio (then called the Cappella Nuova), in the cathedral.

 

Signorelli, Life of St. Benedict
The year following the execution of these frescoes Signorelli was in Siena, painting the two wings for the altar-piece of the Bicchi family, formerly in the Chiesa di Sant’Agostino, now in the Staatliche Museen Berlin. Vasari writes of it : "At Siena he painted in Sant' Agostino, a picture for the chapel of S. Cristofano, in which are some Saints surrounding a S. Christopher in relief."
The church of Sant'Agostino in Siena contains a chapel frescoed by Francesco di Giorgio and Luca Signorelli. These frescoes were discovered beneath an 18th-century plaster redecoration only in 1977.
   
     

Rome



   
Luca Signorelli and Bartolomeo della Gatta, Testament and Death of Moses, oil on panel, 21.6 x 48 cm, Vatican City, Sistine Chapel, Rome

Together with his Florentine colleagues Domenico Ghirlandaio and Cosimo Rosselli and the Perugian Pietro del Perugino, Botticelli was to decorate the walls of the papal electoral chapel - called the "Sistine Chapel" after its builder, Sixtus IV - with frescoes. Botticelli painted three scenes within the short period of eleven months: Scenes from the Life of Moses, The Temptation of Christ and The Punishment of Korah.
However, it was not until the later work on it by Michelangelo, who executed the frescoes on the ceiling and the altar wall between 1508 and 1512 under Julius II, that the chapel would achieve its greatest fame.
The Punishment of Korah and the Stoning of Moses and Aaron is from the cycle of the life of Moses in the Sistine Chapel. It is located in the fifth compartment on the south wall.
The message of this painting provides the key to an understanding of the Sistine Chapel as a whole before Michelangelo's work. The fresco, located in the fifth compartment on the south wall, reproduces three episodes, each of which depicts a rebellion by the Hebrews against God's appointed leaders, Moses and Aaron, along with the ensuing divine punishment of the agitators.
Signorelli worked in Rome from 1478–1484. He assisted in the decoration of the lower walls of the Sistine Chapel. The Testament of Moses is almost entirely of his hand. Signorelli must have had a considerable reputation by about 1483, when he was called on to complete the cycle of frescoes on the walls of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, left unfinished by Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, Perugino, and Rosselli. It's is not known why these four artists abandoned the work in 1482, but it has been suggested that they simply downed tools because of slow payment. Signorelli completed the scheme with distinction.

[read more]

 

The depicted scenes on the left wall are the Moses's Testament by Luca Signorelli and the Punishment of Corah by Sandro Botticelli.


Città di Castello, San Crescentino Oratory, Oratorio di San Crescentino


   
 
The Oratorio di San Crescentino is located in Morra, a locality a few kilometers from Città di Castello. Built in 1420 and enlarged in 1507, the Oratory was dedicated to the Roman soldier Crescentinus, a witness of the Christian faith in the High Tiber Valley and martyrized in 303 A.D. by order of the Emperor Diocletian.
The inside of the Oratory has a single nave that preserves late Gothic frescoes related to the original structure in the sacristy and, along the walls, a decoration executed by the workshop of the painter from Cortona, Luca Signorelli. The scenes of the Flagellation and the Crucifixion are the only ones made by Signorelli.

 
     
In 1498 Luca Signorelli executed a great altarpiece for the Bichi Chapel in the church of Sant'Agostino, Siena. Two wings, now in the Staatliche Museen, Berlin, flanked a statue of St Christopher ascribed to Francesco di Giorgio Martini (Musée du Louvre, Paris). The predella is now divided between various museums.

The left wing of the altarpiece represents Sts Catherine of Siena, Magdalen, and the kneeling St Jerome.

 
St Augustine Altarpiece (left wing)
1498
Poplar, 146 x 76 cm
Staatliche Museen, Berlin
The right wing of the altarpiece represents Sts Augustine, Catherine of Alexandria and the kneeling Anthony of Padua.  
St Augustine Altarpiece (right wing)
1498
Poplar, 146 x 76 cm
Staatliche Museen, Berlin

[1] Laurence Kanter, Tom Henry, Luca Signorelli: The Complete Paintings,
p. 142.
   

Tom Henry is a lecturer in the history of Italian Renaissance art at Oxford Brookes University. In 1998, he curated the exhibition Signorelli in British Collections at the National Gallery. Laurence B. Kanter is curator-in-charge of the Robert Lehman Collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

 

   
Luca Signorelli, Resurrection of the Flesh(detail), 1499-1502, fresco, Chapel of San Brizio, Duomo, Orvieto



Jonathan B. Riess, Luca Signorelli: The San Brizio Chapel, Orvieto, George Braziller, 1995
Sara Nair, Signorelli and Fra Angelico at Orvieto: Liturgy, Poetry, and a Vision of the End of Time, Ashgate Publishing, 2003
Antonio Paolucci, Luca Signorelli (Florence: Scala), 1990

Luca Signorelli - Orvieto (Originally Published 1908)

The Project Gutenberg eBook of Luca Signorelli, by Maud Cruttwell

Vasari's Lives of the Artists | LUCA SIGNORELLI, painter of Cortona (ca. 1450-1523)
LUCA SIGNORELLI, an excellent painter, of whom, according to the order of time, we have now to speak, was more famous throughout Italy in his day, and his works were held in greater price than has ever been the case with any other master at any time whatsoever, for the reason that in the works that he executed in painting he showed the true method of making nudes, and how they can be caused, although only with art and difficulty, to appear alive. He was a pupil and disciple of Piero dal Borgo a San Sepolcro, and greatly did he strive in his youth to imitate his master, and eve to surpass him; and the while that he was working with Piero at Arezzo, living in the house of his uncle Lazzaro Vasari, as it has been told, he imitated the manner of the said Piero so well that the one could scarcely be distinguished from the other.
[...]


[1] The side walls are covered with seven large scenes. The ceiling frescoes (the groups of Apostles, Angels, Patriarchs, Doctors of the Church, Martyrs and Virgins) had been devised by Fra Angelico. The lower part of the walls is decorated with grotesque patterns and with busts of philosophers and poets alongside monochromes commenting their works, as well as illustrations from the Divine Comedy. The overall decoration is completed in the jambs of the windows and in the small chapel on the far wall by the figures of Archangels Raphael (with Tobias), Gabriel and Michael (weighing souls and subjugating the devil), by Bishop Saints Brizio and Constant, and the Lamentation over the Dead Christ with Saints Parenzo and Faustino.
Cardinal Silvio Passerini (1469-1529) was taken under the wing of the powerful Florentine Medici family, after his father, Rosado, was imprisoned for too openly supporting the Medici cause during one of the reversals of power in Quattrocento Florence. Silvio was raised and educated at the court of Lorenzo de' Medici and became very close to Lorenzo's son Giovanni whom he followed even to the battlefront where they fought side by side in France and were both made prisoners. As papal commissioner and envoy for Perugia and Umbria, Passerini amassed a considerable fortune.
[2] When Giovanni became Pope Leo X in 1513, Silvio Passerini was made cardinal-bishop of Cortona with a diocese enlarged at the expense of Florence and Arezzo and was made regent of Alessandro de' Medici, probably Giovanni's son, as lord of Florence in Giovanni's stead. A great period of wealth and power ensued: the papal historian Pastor noted 55 benefices for Cardinal Passerini recorded in Leo's official register. In Cortona, Cardinal Passerini directed his diocese from the Palazzone on the height above Cortona. Originally the 12th-century Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo, who represented the "tribuni della plebe" (the "tribunes of the people"), in 1514 the "Capitani del Popolo" gave way to Cardinal Passerini, who rebuilt it in Renaissance taste ca 1521-27, and left it, as "Palazzo Passerini," to his heirs (who donated it in 1964 to provide a section of the University of Pisa). It is richly frescoed with events of classical Roman history. While frescoing its chapel, the painter Luca Signorelli fell from the scaffolding and died.
The Cardinal was a great Renaissance patron. He built three more personal villas: one in the commune of Bettolle, one in Petrignano and the third in Piazzano, the closest to his official residence. He recognized the talent of the sixteen-year-old Giorgio Vasari of Arezzo and supported him to study in Florence. At Florence he commissioned a tapestry from cartoons by Andrea del Sarto and Raffaellino del Garbo, which is conserved in the diocesan museum at Cortona. With the young Alessandro and Ippolito de' Medici in tow, he attended the first performance of Machiavelli's comedy Il Mandragola, Vasari related.
When the Medici fell in 1527, Silvio Passerini's loyalty toward them also forced him to flee from Florence and Cortona. He died at Città di Castello. His body was later transferred to Rome and buried at his nominal parish, San Lorenzo in Lucina.

[3] The portraits, as identified by the inscription at the bottom, are Luca Signorelli, who painted the frescoes in the San Brizio Chapel between 1499 and 1504, and the chamberlain Niccolò d'Agnolo, in office during that time. It therefore celebrates the two 'protagonists' of the decoration of the chapel. Ever since its appearance in nineteenth-century literature, the authenticity of the work had never been questioned until 1953 when in the Florentine exhibition dedicated to Signorelli, Roberto Longhi maintained that it was a nineteenth-century forgery. The ensuing lively debate is still in course. There are various elements, beginning with the subject and the format, that do seem to be perplexing. At the same time, the quality and brushwork seem to be coherent with a date of around 1500. Recent scientific analyses have also established that the terracotta on which it is painted is compatible with that date. Various characteristics of the text and inscription on the back indicate that this was added later. The fact that it is upside down with respect to the painting might be due to the way in which it was exhibited on a structure where it was turned on a latitudinal axis. [Source: Orvieto MODO. Room of the Sinopias | www.museomodo.it]

 

   
   
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