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Perugino and Raphael, noble models for Sassoferrato in Perugia

Giugno 22, 2013 8:00 am - Ottobre 20, 2013 5:00 pm

The exhibition organised by the Money Changers’ Guild of Perugia, is part of a series of exhibition initiatives promoted by the Uffizi Gallery with the name of “City of the Uffizi”.

Set up in the Audience Hall and in St. John’s Chapel, the exhibition aims to bring together some works from the prestigious Florentine gallery with the frescoes by Pietro Perugino (assisted by Raphael?) present in the Money Changers’ Guild. In particular, the famous Self-portrait by Vannucci, painted on the left wall of the Audience Hall, will be compared to the youthful Self-portrait by Raphael housed in the Uffizi Gallery and with the so-called Portrait by Perugino, always from the Uffizi, by some considered self-portrait and by others the work of Raphael (or by Lorenzo di Credi).

The theme of the self-portrait offers the occasion to return and reflect upon a topic dear to the art world, at least since this kind of representation is associated with awareness, fully achieved in the Renaissance, but already insinuated in the most cultured and refined minds of Florentine proto-humanism, that the painter (but also the sculptor) carries out a liberal activity, an activity whereby the role of the mind is predominant over that of the hand. In other words, since the artist became aware, to quote the words of Edouard Pommier, “that he has the power to show beauty to the point where it merges with the splendour of divine revelation”. Not by chance the use of self-portraits, first in a hidden or disguised form, then in an increasingly autonomous and open way, goes hand in hand with the affirmation of the artist’s social role.

“Celebration – continues Pommier, reflecting upon the honours bestowed upon the great Renaissance artists – entails self celebration”. Therefore it is natural for those who practice art, especially if at a high level, to feel the desire to perpetuate their memory, to go down in history by delivering to posterity not only their works but also their face. Initially the artist’s portrait is linked to the work produced, it is inserted within it, it constitutes a compromise between the act of humility of those who still feels homo mechanicus and the affirmation of a new awareness. “At first slipping, as if smuggled, into a sacred tale” to later emerge from this “semi-secretiveness to loudly affirm his self-awareness, indeed his pride.”

From this point of view the Self-portrait by Perugino at Cambio, placed amongst the most famous men and accompanied by a celebrative epitaph dictated by the humanist Francesco Maturanzio, where he is defined “egregius pictor (excellent painter)”, appears as exemplary as ever.
The comparison in the exhibition between the face of the mature Umbrian master and the Self-portrait of the youthful Raphael allows one to broaden reflection on the theme of the composite and well-organised workshop of Perugino in which, between 1498 and 1500, also the newcomer Raphael passed.
The same frescoes by Cambio in some parts reveal, according to some scholars, the hand of the sixteen-seventeen year old from Urbino.
The presence of the famous Self-portrait by Giovan Battista Salvi, known as Sassoferrato, contributes to making this exhibition project more articulated and dynamic. Also on loan from the Uffizi Gallery, the Self-portrait by Sassoferrato allows one to address the evocative theme of 17th century reinterpretation of the expressive ways of Perugino and Raphael.

To illustrate this topic the exhibition presents seven works by the Marches painter inspired, more or less freely, by the prototypes of the two Renaissance artists. Housed in St. Peter’s Basilica in Perugia, the seven works by Sassoferrato proffer the idea of the engagement by the artist in reproducing the famous and venerated models of the late fifteenth and early sixteenth century figurative tradition.

In line with what is suggested by the precept versus reformed that recommends painters to create “honest and devote images, with those signs that were given to them by the ancients for the privilege of sanctity”. Sassoferrato devised a figurative production that, if on one hand revived the refined elegance of Perugino and Raphael, on the other it introduced iconographic and stylistic formulas of doubtless originality, useful for strengthening and sreading the Catholic faith.

The exhibition will be curated by Prof. Francesco Federico Mancini, full professor of the History of Modern Art at the University of Perugia, and by Prof. Antonio Natali, director of the Uffizi Gallery.


Giugno 22, 2013 8:00 am
Ottobre 20, 2013 5:00 pm
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