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Pintoricchio

(c. 1454—1513)


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(b Perugia, c.1456; d Siena, 11 Dec. 1513).

Italian painter. His nickname has been variously explained as being a reference to ‘his small stature and unprepossessing appearance’, as meaning ‘rich painter’ (alluding to his liking for gold leaf and expensive colours), and as meaning ‘dauber’. He worked in various places but always kept contact with his native Perugia. In 1481–2 he assisted the city's leading painter, Perugino, with his frescos in the Sistine Chapel, Rome. His style was strongly influenced by Perugino, especially in his sweet, elegant figure types, but Pintoricchio lacked Perugino's lucidity of design and was more interested in decorative effects. His chief works are frescos in the Borgia rooms in the Vatican (1492–5) and the colourful Scenes from the Life of Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini (i.e. Pope Pius II) in the Piccolomini Library of Siena Cathedral (1503). In these he showed the brilliant colours, ornamental detail, and fanciful charm that make him at his best, in the words of Frederick Hartt (A History of Italian Renaissance Art, 1970), ‘one of the most endearing masters of the Quattrocento…a kind of Perugian Benozzo Gozzoli’. Pintoricchio was a prolific painter of panels as well as frescos—there are several examples of his work in the National Gallery, London.

Subjects: Art — Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500).


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