NOTES ON ARTISTS AND PERSONALITIES
ALBERTO DI GIOVANNI ALBERTI (1525-1599)
Known as Berto di San Sepolcro, he was active as architect, wood carver and painter, and was engaged as master carver at Arezzo (choir stalls in the Cathedral) and at Rome (from 1564 to 1586).
At Città di Castello he executed carvings in a number of churches.
BARBONI VINCENZO (1802-1859)
Born into a middle class family at Città di Castello, he became with his fellow citizens, the brothers Vincenzo Chialli (painter) and Giuseppe Chialli (sculptor), a disciple of Giuseppe Crosti. Later he studied at Perugia with the draughtsman Tommaso Mainardi who took to him Rome where he was appointed to the Academy of St. Luca.
Borboni's painting on wood of the "Virgin Mary and Christ child with the Saints Florido, Amanzio and Crescenziano" was hung above the side entrance of the Cathedral giving on to Piazza Gabriotti. It is now in the Sacristy. Among his other works are the "Martyrdom of St. Lawrence" now in the Town Hall, and "Madonna with Saints Eligins and Lucy" in the Municipal Art Gallery (Pinacoteca Comunale).
He was for some time Director of the Municipal School of Art.
BATTISTA DA CASTELLO
Biographical details are scarce. "In connection with Gherardi, only Battista della Bilia is designated a "painter"; this other Battista, also of Città di Castello, who appears on the scene on the death of his painter namesake, was more probably, apprentice and assistant to Gherardi" (see C. Rosini "Dietro la moda delle grottesche: Prospero Fontana e Paolo Vitelli" 1986 (p. 27)".
He is mentioned by Vasari with reference to the decorations of Palazzo Vitelli alla Cannoniera. Perhaps also the design of the Choir stalls in the Cathedral may be attributed to him.
CONCA TOMMASO MARIA (1734-1822)
Roman painter, member of the Arcadia and the Academy of San Luca, of which he was President during the years 1792 to 1795. His early works beginning with the Assunzione (1768-69) reflect a degree of research which gained him a prominent position as a late Rococo artist and exponent of nascent Neo-Classicism.
The cycle of frescoes in the Egyptian Room (1775), in the Silenus Room (1780) of the Villa Borghese, and in the Hall of the Muses in the Vatican (1782-1786), all in Rome, with the frescoes in the Cathedral of Città di Castello established him as one of the most outstanding figures in the sphere of Roman Neo-Classicism.
In Città di Castello he carried-out the decoration of Palazzo Lignani-Marchesani, and produced designs for the Egyptian Room there, executed subsequently by his son Giacomo.
Some of the oil paintings such as Apollo, Peace, and Mars are his own work.
ERMENEGILDO COSTANTINI (1731-1791)
Roman painter, pupil of Marco Benefial (Roma 1684- 1764), distanced himself from his master by adopting a Baroque idiom "which tended towards the grandiose and highly decorative" (M. Coccia: AA.VV, "La pittura in Italia. Il Settecento" cit II, pag 680). In Rome he executed many frescoes in his neo-Baroque style, also at Velletri (cappella del SS Sacramento) and at Recanati (Galleria Palazzo Antici). Tommaso Antici, impressed by his Recanati work, recommended him to the Cathedral Canons, who chose him among many contestants as worthy to stand beside such renowned artists as Ludovico Mazzanti and Marco Benefial.
After the earthquake of 1789, which made him fear for his life, he returned to Rome where he continued to be active. His last work, in 1791, was a partial copy of the Pala di San Nicola da Tolentino by Raphael, seriously damaged in 1789. This is now in the Municipal Gallery (Pinacoteca Comunale).
FRANCESCO DA TIFERNO
Lived in the 15th-16th century. Little is known of him, nor does there seem any foundation for the theory that he was a disciple of Raphael. G. Mancini in his "Istruzione, storico-pittorica per visitare le Chiese e i Palazzi di Città di Castello", (1832 II, p. 58), considers such a notion "a massive error". Furthermore he excludes the possibility that Francesco might have been a pupil of Pietro Perugino and expresses the opinion that "it is more likely he was a disciple of Gentile da Fabriano who spent considerable time here in painting a number of works". (p. 59).
Francesco Tifernate painted a picture for the Church of Santa Maria Nova, in the Corso of Città di Castello, showing "Job, San Donino and other Saints", damaged during the earthquake of 1789. Mancini considers the "Annunciazione" in the Cathedral Museum to be "in a plainer style" than the other more imposing "Annunciazione" displayed in the Municipal Art Gallery (op. cit. I, p. 201).
GAGLIARDI BERNARDINO (1609 - ?)
Born at Città di Castello in 1609, he was trained in the school of a local painter and architect named Rinaldo Rinaldi. He later studied in Rome in the school of Avanzino Nucci (1552-1629), a noted artist also from Città di Castello, who had been a disciple of Pomarancio and had worked in Rome in the Basilica of S. Paul, in the Oratorio della Trinità dei Pellegrini, at S. Callisto and in the other Churches. Active in several cities, Gagliardi settled in Rome in 1636 where he opened a school. His works won wide admiration and Pope Urbano VII invested him with the Cross of the Ordine di Cristo. He was numbered among the Academicians of San Luca, of whom he became President in 1655.
After returning to Città di Castello, he executed many works for the Cathedral; for the Church of San Giovanni decollato, he painted a "Deposizione" now in the local Seminary; and a fresco of the "Assunzione" for the Church of Combarbio, much damaged by the earthquake of 1789. This was greatly admired by Marco Benefial who seems to have been inspired by it for his own "Assunzione" which decorates the cupola of the Cathedral presbitery. Gagliardi opened a school at Perugia and worked in various places in Umbria. With good reason he may be regarded as one of the most outstanding local artists.
GIACOMO DI SER MICHELE
In a deed drawn up by Niccolò di Ser Marco Vanni, held in the Legal Archives, mention is made of Giacomo di Ser Michele, citizen of this town, who together with Giorgio di Andrea di Bartolo da Siena, painted for the Canons'Chapter "with excellent colours a picture of the Virgin Mary with her Son in her arms; with standing up on one side S. Florido and on the other S. Amanzio: and this was made for the sum of 35 gold florins with the obligation to gild it with pure gold" (Mancini op. cit. II p. 55).
GIULIANO DA SANGALLO (1445 ca - 1516)
He was the chief Florentine architect of his time, the only one who seriously attacked the problem of reviving the classification of buildings through direct study of ancient architecture. In Rome in 1465 he made accurate designs of ancient monuments filling several sketchbooks (the most famous of these being the Sienese one).
His major works were created in Florence to which he returned in 1479, among them the Palazzo Gandi. He received two architectural commissions from Lorenzo il Magnifico; the Church of Santa Maria delle Carceri at Prato and the Villa Poggio at Caiano built in the centre of a great park and resting on a square foundation above open arcades.
GORO DI GREGORIO
Sienese goldsmith and sculptor in marble active during the 1330s, his work is characterised by a Gothic "extremism" which places him, uniquely among sculptors, in close relationship with the Sienese goldsmiths of his time.
His career runs parallel with those of Agostino di Giovanni (working in Arezzo at the same period) with Simone Martini and the with the brothers Lorenzetti.
The similarity between the Bishop's Crozier of c.a. 1324 and Goro's work was first noted by G.
MAESTRO DELLA CROCIFISSIONE VOLPI
An unidentified artist who was a predecessor of Bonfigli and was active at Perugia during the first half of the 15th century. "After a late exordium in company with Pietro di Nicola da Orvieto, he gradually evolves as a Renaissance figure (F. Todini "La pittura Umbra dal Duecento al primo Cinquecento" Milano 1989, p. 127).
He produced various works (some of which are abroad) among them the "Crucifixion" which forms part of the Volpi collection in Florence (hence the name by which he is known).
Elia Volpi (1858-1938) born in Città di Castello, was a well a well known antiquarian who collected many important works of art, now widely dispersed especially in U.S.A. Among his several merits should be mentioned his gift to the Municipality of Città di Castello of the restored and refurbished Palazzo Vitelli alla Cannoniera to house the Municipal Art Gallery.
MAZZANTI LUDOVICO (1686-1775)
A painter who came from a noble family of Orvieto, he belonged to the Romano-Neapolitan school of artists and carried out his early work in Rome and Orvieto. In Rome he collaborated with Nicolò Pomarancio in the church of Santa Maria Apollinare, while at Orvieto he designed the upper mosaics for the Cathedral façade (1713-1714). He executed many works at Naples, where he was based during the years 1733 -1740, and in Campania (the Abbey of Montevergine).
In 1744 he became a member of the Academy of St. Luca. When he was invited to Città di Castello he was already famous. He painted the frescoes of the original cupola of the Cathedral, designed by the architect Nicola Barbioni, which collapsed in the earthquake of 1789. Documents relating to this work are conserved in the Museum archives. All that remains are the Evangelists at the base of the cupola arches and some models held in the Cathedral Museum: a work of "truly baroque magniloquence" (V. Casale). At Città di Castello he painted two altarpieces for the "Murate" monastery (enclosed order of nuns) and other works in private houses. He also received commissions from foreign countries notably France and Poland.
PACETTI GIOVAN BATTISTA (1593 - ?)
Pacetti, better known by his nickname "Lo Sguazzino", (in reference, no doubt, to his somewhat slap-dash methods) belonged to the Roman school of painters. He has left numerous works, especially in the Cathedral of his native city, Città di Castello, at Perugia and also Bevagna. The date of his death is not known. His work is of variable quality and often reveals the haste in which it was carried out.
PINTURICCHIO (BERNARDINO DI BETTO) (1454-1513)
Pinturicchio collaborated with Perugino at Perugia, his native city (two panels in the doors of the banner of St. Bernardino, 1473, today in the Art Gallery in Perugia) and in Rome (frescoes in the Sistine Chapel, 1481-83 and the Story of St. Bernardino at Aracaeli between 1485 to 1490).
There are many points of contact between the two artists, though Pinturicchio's strength lay in his decorative, imaginative and lively creativity. He liked to depict human beings placed within vivid urban and rustic environment. He is a painter with a leaning towards the archaic for which reason he is often included in the late Gothic movement.
In Rome he was the favourite painter, between 1480 and the end of the century, of Pope Alexander VI Borgia.
From 1492 to 1494 he painted frescoes in the apartments chosen by the Pope as his private residence in the Vatican; among his collaborators were PierMatteo di Amelia and Antonio da Viterbo.
On his return to Perugia he worked in Umbria (Perugia, Spoleto,Spello).
From 1502 he settled in Siena where he painted the frescoes in the Chapel of St. John the Baptist in the Cathedral and where he executed his masterpiece: the frescoes depicting scenes from the life of Pope Pius II. These are in the Piccolomini Library of Siena Cathedral and are exceptional as much for the physical harmony of the figures as for their architectural and visual perspective. He was able to enlist the services of the youthful Raphael, who contributed the most forward-looking elements in the cycle. It is therefore a work which, not only from a strictly chronological point of view, goes beyond the confines of XV century art. Pinturicchio died in Siena in 1513.
ROSSO FIORENTINO (GIOVANNI BATTISTA DI JACOPO DI
Born in Florence in 1495, he became one of the major Florentine artists of the 16th century. Protagonist of the first and fundamental phase of Florentine "mannerism" he developed alongside Pontormo in the workshop of Andrea del Sarto. He made his name working with them on the frescoes of the little Cloister Dei Voti della SS. Annunziata. Contemporary writings speak of his part in a "revolution" in painting parallel to the one at the same period inspired by Pontormo. He made radical innovations based on profound research and through experimentation in new forms and pictorial structures.
From the beginning therefore Rosso emerges as a controversial and polemical figure: his personages often present a bizarre even devilish physiognomy (a desperate and cruel demeanour according to Vasari) which have left his patrons perplexed. The "Deposizione dalla Croce" of Volterra (1521) is in this sense emblematic of a disconcerting aggressiveness on account of the violent deformation of the figures and the striking colours employed.
The stylistic evolution of this painter was rapid. Within the space of a few years through the medium of important works he passed from the Florentine influence of Pontormo and Andrea del Sarto to the Roman one of Michelangelo, until he achieved comparison with Parmigianino. After the siege of Rome in 1527 he went on various travels: his style alternated between bitter demoniacal outbursts and a gentler tone more attuned to the wishes of his official patrons.
During these years he completed a panel representing the "Deposizione dalla Croce" (1528) for the Confraternity of Santa Croce in San Lorenzo. He also painted "Cristo in Gloria" (1528-30) for the Brotherhood of Corpus Domini in Città di Castello. This is now in the Cathedral museum, but was at one time in the left transept and later in the Chapel of the Holy Sacrament of the Cathedral. In 1530 he went to Paris where he created the grandiose gallery of the Royal Palace of Fontainebleau (1532-1537) for King Frances I, one of the first examples of "mannerism" in Europe. He died at Fontainebleau (Paris) in 1540.
GIULIO ROMANO (1492 (99?) - 1546)
This is the name by which the painter and architect Giulio Pippi, one of the founders of "mannerism", is generally known. Vasari describes him as "heir of the most graceful Raphael as much for the draperies as for the beauty of his figures in the art of painting". He was a great organiser of decorative projects becoming an expert in all aspects of his craft. He set up the operation of Raphael's workshop, becoming his most trusted collaborator.
He was employed in carrying out important commissions such as rooms and "loggie" of the Vatican, the Farnesina and Villa Madama. It is not easy to distinguish Giulio's hand from that of other collaborators of Raphael; a more sinuous outline and metallic colours are characteristic of such works as "Il martirio di Santo Stefano" (Genova, Santo Stefano) or the "Madonna della gatta" (Napoli - Capodimonte) in which there emerges a tendency towards gestures and expressions of a certain eloquence in keeping with the nascent Mannerism. On the death of Raphael (1520) Giulio Romano took charge of the workshop, bringing to completion works of notable importance such as the Hall of Constantine in the Vatican. In 1524 he moved to Mantua; from then on until his death Giulio was the unrivalled exponent of the last phase of Renaissance Court painting in Italy.
For the Gonzagas he carried out extraordinary cycles of frescoes, ambitious buildings (Palazzo Te, Mantua Cathedral, the Abbey of San Benedetto Po), and extensive restoration of ancient buildings (new quarters and courtyards in the Ducal Palace).
He also created cartoons for tapestries and designs for jewellery. In short he was wholly responsible for the public image of the Court of Isabella and Federico Gonzaga. The dispersion and demolition of the Gonzaga residences has entailed the partial disappearance of these enterprises. The most complex and rich in significance of his projects remains the conception and decoration of the Palazzo Te, in which every room offers new and ever more striking subjects and ornamentation. Giulio Romano died in Mantua in 1546.
LUCA SIGNORELLI (1445 ca - 1523)
Native of Cortona, Luca Signorelli was able to assimilate and express the most up to date elements of Tuscan art of his time. His works reveal an intense and vital link between "centre" and "periphery" alternating between periods spent in the very heart of cultural activity (in the "milieu" of Lorenzo il Magnifico in Florence and Federico di Montefeltro at Urbino) with extended stays in minor locations. Pupil of Piero della Francesca at Arezzo and later follower of the Pollaiolo brothers at Florence, Luca Signorelli made his mark at Urbino, where he painted, among other works, the "Flagellazione" now in the Brera at Milan. In 1482 he was in Rome working with Perugino on the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel. His contact with this Umbrian artist led him to refine his style, as may be seen in the frescoes he painted in the Sacristy of the Sanctuary of Loreto and in the altarpiece of Sant'Onofrio in the Cathedral of Perugia (1484). Moving to Florence he achieved success in the artistic circle which gathered around Lorenzo de' Medici; during this phase he executed various works held in the Uffizi, including a vigorous "tondo" of the Virgin and Child. After the death of Lorenzo he chose to leave Florence in order to carry out two memorable series of frescoes: "The Story of San Benedetto" in the Cloister of the Abbey of Monte Oliveto (1496-1498), and the terrifying "Apocalypse" in the Chapel of St. Brizio in Orvieto Cathedral (1499-1504). The last two decades of Luca Signorelli's life were spent almost entirely between Cortona and Città di Castello. He died at Cortona in 1523.
VITELLI ALESSANDRO (1494-1554)
He was a distinguished member of the Vitelli family who were virtual rulers of Città di Castello for much of XV-XVI centuries.
He was the father of that Vitellozzo Vitelli infamously assassinated on the orders of Cesare Borgia because of his alliance with the Medici of Florence.
Alessandro was Bishop of Città di Casello and was created Cardinal by Pope Paul IV. After a life of intense military activity he died at Citerna which had been given in fiefdom to the Vitelli by Pope Clemente VI
A deed by Nello Rampaccio of Citerna, held in the Cathedral archives, records the funeral of Alessandro Vitelli, (with the coffin borne on the shoulders of citizens of Citerna), and his burial, which look place on Sunday 11 Th February 1554.