Rosemary Flannery, author of The Angels of Paris, has written about the new exhibition Perugino, Maitre de Raphael: Perugino, Raphael’s Master
The Jacquemart-André Museum is currently hosting a superb exhibition on Italian Renaissance master Perugino. Born Piero Vannucci circa 1445-1450 to a wealthy family in a small city near Umbria’s capital, Perugia, his early training was in Bartholdi’s workshop. By 1470 he was in Florence, part of Verocchio’s prestigious studio, under the protection of Lorenzo the Magnificent. The artistic climate was in full ferment; fellow students included da Vinci, Ghirlandaio, Botticelli and Lippi. Vanucci’s talent, revealed in assured draftsmanship and a refined, elegant style, melded vivacious colors and graceful poses in a serene and beautifully constructed setting.
An early monumental work depicting St Romain and St Roch, full-length portraits with beautifully rendered costumes in contrapposto pose, is a joy to behold: a view of the city of Deruda acts as predella, while the upper panel is adorned with a whimsical draping, infusing the scene with a theatrical touch.
In 1480, he was called to Rome by Pope Sixtus IV to create fresco panels for the Sixtine Chapel. Multitudinous commissions follow from religious orders, the nobility and the wealthy. Documents reveal that he was an extraordinary businessman and a master of publicity, with a flair for attracting clients and stockpiling commissions. Now known as Perugino, he opens two workshops, one in Perugia, the other in Florence.
Nearly all of his oeuvre was religious; paintings corralled from museums of the Vatican, the Louvre, Washington, London and Florence include numerous, languorous Madonna and Child paintings. To his ‘dolce’ manner - soft and sweet - Perugino adds quirky stylistic touches: headdresses adorning Mary were inspired by his wife Chiara, who posed for him on several occasions. The artist himself enjoyed arranging her hair; the exhibition poster portrays Chiara as a pensive Virgin wearing an elaborate blue hair ribbon, holding the Christ child.
Although not known for his portraiture, one of the great surprises of the exhibition is an extraordinary depiction of Francesco dell Opere. Hung alongside paintings by contemporaries Rosselli and Botticelli, Perugino’s portrait gleams with psychological insight and perfect physiognomy. The finesse of the rendering of hair and clothing also make one easily understand why Perugino was the highest paid and most acclaimed painter of his generation. Delle Opere holds an unfurled scroll reading ‘Fear God’, a reference to Savonarola’s sermons.
The fiery preacher’s exhortation for a ‘language of devotion’, simplified and without ornamentation, will find artistic echo in Perugino’s serene, pared-down landscapes such as found in his fine Fano predella depicting the Assumption of Mary. A mandorla is punctuated with tilted cherubs’ heads, while a pair of delicate angels skate in on small clouds. Twelve apostles robed in ravishing colors converse, pray and adore against a Tuscan backdrop of hills and trees.
Perugino visited Venice in 1494 and 1496; an exotic influence radiates in his Mary Magadalen, with golden touches on halo and clothing, a new interest in detail of furs and brocades, and the introduction of watery landscapes. He achieved translucent, crystalline skin tones by adding powdered glass to pigments.
The exhibition includes a low-relief sculpture from Verocchio’s school, as well as work by Perugino’s contemporaries and students, Pinturrichio and Raphael. Raphael would go on to surpass Perugino, who towards the latter part of his thirty-year career, re-used old drawings for new work, sliding into a repetitive and faded formula. But Raphael and his master maintained an excellent relationship of mutual teaching. Perugino died of the plague in 1523 and is buried in Perugia. The 1573 Pietro Vannucci Fine Arts Academy of Perugia honors his memory.
158 boulevard Haussmann, Paris 75008
Until January 15th.
Exhibition hours: 10AM-6PM; 8:30PM Mondays and Saturdays
Rosemary Flannery, artist and writer, is the author of Angels of Paris: An Architectural Tour through the History of Paris.
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New! Eye Prefer Paris Cooking Classes
I am happy to announce the launch of Eye Prefer Paris Cooking Classes. Come take an ethnic culinary journey with me and chef and caterer Charlotte Puckette, co-author of the bestseller The Ethnic Paris Cookbook (with Olivia Kiang-Snaije). First we will shop at a Paris green-market for the freshest ingredients and then return to Charlotte's professional kitchen near the Eiffel Tower to cook a three-course lunch. After, we will indulge in the delicious feast we prepared along with hand-selected wines.
Cost: 185 euros per person (about $240)
Time: 9:30AM- 2PM (approximately 4 1/2 hours)
Location: We will meet by a metro station close to the market
Class days: Tuesday,Wednesday, Thursday,Friday, Saturday, and Sunday
Minimum of 2 students, maximum 6 students.
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I am pleased as punch to announce the launch of Eye Prefer Paris Tours, which are 3-hour walking tours I will personally be leading. The Eye Prefer Paris Tour includes many of the places I have written about such as small museums & galleries, restaurants, cafes & food markets, secret addresses, fashion & home boutiques, parks, and much more.
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Click here to watch a video of our famous Marais tour