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Pietro Perugino


Early Renaissance  Painter of the Umbrian school

Stylistically influenced by the following painters - Piero della FrancescaGiotto di Bondone, Sassetta and Fra Angelico

Education - He was apprenticed to the workshop of  Andrea del Verrocchio

Cause of Death -  Plague

Artist Bio
Perugino was one of the greatest painters of the Renaissance
.  According to author  Jennie Ellis Keysor "The greatest of all the Umbrian painters, before Raphael, was a queer little miserly man named Perugino, who at that time had a studio in Perugia, an Umbrian town not far distant from Urbino. Although he was of mean appearance and ignoble character, he had an unmistakable power in painting mild-eyed Madonnas and spotless saints against delicate landscape backgrounds. People disliked the man, but they could not help seeing the beauty of his art, and so his studio was crowded. Hither was sent the boy Raphael and when Perugino noted the lad and some of his work, he said, “Let him be my pupil: he will soon become my master.” As nearly as we can learn, he remained in this studio nine years, from 1495 to 1504.

Perugino’s style of painting greatly pleased Raphael. He was naturally teachable and this, with his admiration for Perugino’s pictures, made his first work in the studio very much like his master’s. Indeed it is almost impossible to tell some of his earliest pictures from those of his teacher. "

Pietro Perugino's personal life was wild and tumultuous. He was known to be high-spirited and unpredictable. The artist scorned church dogma and ridiculed his pious friends. A well know penny pincher, he demanded full payment before beginning any project. According to his biographer, Giorgio Vasari, "Pietro was not a religious man, and would never believe it, the immortality of the soul, obstinately refusing to listen to all good reasons. He relied entirely upon the good gifts of fortune, and would have gone to any lengths for money. He acquired great wealth, and built and bought houses in Florence. At Perugia and Castello della Pieve he acquired much real property." Perugino was in huge demand as the finest portraitist of his day and the church hierarchy loved his rather corny, virtuous religious themes and commissioned altarpieces.

He worked chiefly in Umbria, Florence and Tuscany. His style is characterized by dazzling colors, spatial clarity of his compositions and a harmonious union between figure and landscape. He was the teacher of Raphael, who benefited much their relationship. In the year 1524 plague swept through Italy, killing hundreds of thousands. Perugino was one of the unlucky victims. According to Renaissance historian Amy Steedman, "To the hospital of Fartignano, close to Perugia, they carried Perugino when the deadly plague seized him, and there he died. There was no time to think of grand funerals; the people were buried as quickly as possible, in whatever place lay closest at hand. So it came to pass that Perugino was laid to rest in an open field under an oak-tree close by. Later on his sons wished to have him buried in holy ground, and some say that this was done, but nothing is known for certain. Perhaps if he could have chosen, he would have been glad to think that his body should rest under the shelter of the trees he loved to paint, in that waste openness of space which had always been his vision of beauty, since, as a little boy, he gazed across the Umbrian Plain, and the wonder of it sank into his soul." art consequently did not recognize the individual in particular. Classical humanism, an itellectula movement based upon the texts of Roman and Greek orators and philosophers, was a crucial part of the Italian Renaissance. This philosophical movement was based on the idea that every persons life had value and dignity. Francesco Petrarch , 1304-1374, called the Father of Humanism, Italian Intellectual, Poet, and Humanist, wrote "Love is the crowning grace of humanity, the holiest right of the soul, the golden link which binds us to duty and truth, the redeeming principle that chiefly reconciles the heart of life, and is prophetic of eternal good."

The  Early Renaissance was a time of  great intellectual and spiritual awakening.   Florentine artists took leadership in the development of a new style of painting focusing on ideal beauty.  During the 15th century Patronage  shifted from the church to the merchant class  and wealthy patrons of the patrician class, such as the Medici family,  began collecting and commissioning works of art.  such as the  Italian art world.  Humanism was  emerging, and religious devotion, though still an important part of people's lives, was being restructured to accommodate the belief that man can be master his own  fate. 

The standard of beauty was measured by rudimentary and uncompromising representation of individual qualities. This may  best explain all the strange physiognomies witch suddenly made their appearance in art; course men of the people with uncouth, overworked figures; peasants, with bones of bronze and pointed weather beaten features; half starved old beggars with sagging flesh and tottering bodies; neglected fellows with bald heads, stubbly beards, and long muscular arms. In place of the former dainty pose, every line is now sinew. Their firm, energetic attitude reflects the entire sprit of the rugged age. -- Richard Muther, The History of  Painting, Henry and Co., London, 1896

The most profound change came with the introduction of the new technique of painting in oils, developed in Flanders, and widely adopted in Italy and elsewhere.

Key Descriptive Words  and Phrases associated with the Renaissance Movement rebirth, rediscovery of the classical world, City-state, Humanism, Humanist, Francesco Petrarch, Reform, The Prince, Theocracy, The Inquisition, Human Reasoning,  publication of Della Pittura, a book about the laws of mathematical perspective for artists, sfumato, chiaroscuro, linear perspectiveHeliocentric Theory, vanishing point, Savonarola, spiritually significant,  illuminated manuscriptidealized biblical themes, scriptorium, emotion, illuminator,  iconoclast, Age of Discovery, axonometric drawing, curiosity about the natural world, mythology,  realistic use of colours and lightBonfire of the Vanities, Old Testament stories, ethereal and foggy backgrounds, Gospel parables, The Blackdeath, romanticized landscapes,  Christian symbolism. Paradise



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Famous  Painters of the Early Renaissance
Mariotto Albertinelli
Fra Angelico
Alesso Baldovinetti

Lazzaro Bastiani
Gentile Bellini
Pedro Berruguete
Sandro Botticelli
Guidoccio Cozzarelli 

Bernardo Daddi
Jean Fouquet
Domenico Ghirlandaio
Giovanni di Paolo di Grazia
Giotto di Bondone
Giovanni di Paolo

Benozzo Gozzoli
Fra Filippo Lippi
Andrea Mantegna
Pietro  Perugino
Piero della Francesca
Sano di Pietro
Paolo Uccello
Andrea del Verrocchio

References - Giorgio Vasari The Lives of the Artists
Knights of the Art; stories of the Italian painters by Amy Steedman
Great Artists, Vol 1. by Jennie Ellis Keysor