Pintoricchio or Pinturicchio (Italian: [pintuˈrikkjo]) whose formal name was Bernardino di Betto, also known as Benetto di Biagio or Sordicchio, was an Italian painter of the Renaissance. Born in Perugia in 1454 and dying in Siena in 1513, Pintoricchio acquired his nickname, meaning ("little painter"), because of his small stature. He also used it to sign some of his 15th and 16th century artworks.
Pinturicchio was born the son of Benedetto or Betto di Blagio, in Perugia. In his career, he may have trained under lesser known Perugian painters such as Bonfigli and Fiorenzo di Lorenzo. According to Vasari, Pinturicchio was a paid assistant of Perugino.
The works of the Perugian Renaissance school are very similar; and paintings by Perugino, Pinturicchio, Lo Spagna and a young Raphael may often be mistaken one for the other. In the execution of large frescoes, pupils and assistants had a large share in the work, either in enlarging the master's sketch to the full-sized cartoon, in transferring the cartoon to the wall, or in painting backgrounds or accessories. His assignment in Rome, to decorate the Sistine Chapel, was an experience fraught with learning from prominent artists of the time, including: Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Pietro Vanucci, and Luca Signorelli. The Sistine Chapel was also where it is believed that Pinturicchio was collaborating with Perugino to some extent.
After assisting Perugino in his frescoes in the Sistine Chapel, Pinturicchio was employed by various members of the Della Rovere family to decorate the Semi-Gods Ceiling of Palazzo dei Penitenzieri and also a series of chapels in the church of Santa Maria del Popolo, where he appears to have worked from 1484, or earlier, to 1492. "Would be, if it had been left with all its original decorations, one of the finest monuments to Pintoricchio’s art in Italy. A great deal still remains, but much has been swept away", sums up his work in that basilica Evelyn March Phillipps.
The earliest of his works is an altarpiece of the Adoration of the Shepherds, in the Della Rovere Chapel, the first chapel (from the west) on the south, built by Cardinal Domenico della Rovere. In the lunettes under the vault Pinturicchio painted small scenes from the life of St Jerome.The polychrome grotesque wall decoration on yellow-gold background were probably inspired by the paintings of the Domus Aurea, and belong the earliest and highest quality of their kind in Rome.
The frescos which he painted in the Cybo Chapel, built by Cardinal Lorenzo Cybo de Mari in the beginning of the 16th century, were destroyed in 1682, when the chapel was rebuilt by Cardinal Alderano Cybo. The old fresco of the Virgin and the Child by Pinturicchio was detached from the wall and sent by the cardinal to Massa in 1687. The fragment was re-used as the altarpiece of the Ducal Chapel of the Cathedral of Massa.
The third chapel on the south is that of Girolamo Basso della Rovere, nephew of Pope Sixtus IV, and bishop of Recanati. The Basso Della Rovere Chapel contains a fine altarpiece of the Madonna enthroned between Four Saints, and on the east side a very nobly composed fresco of the Assumption of the Virgin. The vault and its lunettes are richly decorated with small pictures of the Life of the Virgin, surrounded by graceful arabesques; and the dado is covered with monochrome paintings of scenes from the lives of saints, illusionistic benches, and very graceful and powerfully drawn female figures in full length in which the influence of Luca Signorelli may be traced.
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