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Published:May 9th, 2007 04:39 EST
[Italian Americans] Renaissance master hits Tokyo

[Italian Americans] Renaissance master hits Tokyo

By SOP newswire

TOKYO (ANSA) - Renaissance painter Perugino has followed Leonardo da Vinci to Japan as part of a raft of cultural events dubbed `Italian Spring`.

A major show featuring 14 paintings by the Umbrian great has opened at the Sompo gallery - famous for Van Gogh`s Sunflowers - in Tokyo`s buzzing shopping hub Shinjuku.

Eighteen works by painters influenced by the High Renaissance master complete the show, which has been made possible thanks to loans from Perugia`s Galleria dell`Umbria and San Pietro Church, along with other famed Italian museums including Rome`s Galleria Borghese.

It is the second exhibition in the Italian Spring series after Leonardo`s Annunciation, now on show at the Tokyo National Museum, which has attracted more than 250,000 visitors in three weeks after its high-profile and somewhat controversial loan from the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. Leading Japanese art historian Shigetoshi Osano helped inaugurate the Perugino show and gave a lecture to a packed audience at the Italian Institute of Culture, on the importance of Perugino in the transition from early Renaissance masters like Piero della Francesca and Verrocchio - his two inspirations - to the High Renaissance geniuses Leonardo, Michelangelo and Raphael.

The Tokyo show, entitled `Perugino Divin Pittore` - his Renaissance nickname - moves to the southern Japanese city of Fukuyama near Hiroshima on July 7, where it will stay until September 2. Perugino (c.1445 1523?) was born near Perugia, the Umbrian capital, from which he got his name. His real name was Pietro di Cristoforo Vannucci. Art experts say he is the greatest painter of the Umbrian school after Raphael. He assisted Piero della Francesca at Arezzo and was a fellow pupil of Leonardo da Vinci in Verrocchio`s studio in Florence. In 1479 Perugino was summoned to Rome by Pope Sixtus IV to help decorate the Sistine Chapel. Some of his work there was destroyed to make room for Michelangelo`s Last Judgment. The remaining fresco, Christ Giving the Keys to St. Peter, is one of the greatest paintings from the second half of the 15th century because of its simplicity and clarity of composition, experts say. At the end of the 15th century Perugino worked mainly in Florence, painting the Madonna with Saints and Angels (Louvre); Pieta` (Pitti Palace, Florence); The Crucifixion, fresco (Santa Maria Maddalena dei Pazzi, Florence); Madonna Enthroned with Saints (Vatican); and The Crucifixion (National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.). His kept busy in his so-called last period (1505 23), mainly in Umbria, teaching several young hopefuls including a teenage Raphael. He made a great altarpiece, The Ascension, for the San Pietro church in Perugia and painted another altarpiece, Madonna and Saints for the Charterhouse (Certosa) of Pavia. Other late works are Triumph of Chastity (Louvre), a panel painted for the study of Isabella d`Este at Mantua; Virgin between St. Jerome and St. Francis and The Adoration of the Shepherds, his last work (both in the National Gallery in London); and Annunciation (National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.).

photo: Perugino`s famed Resurrection altarpiece in the Vatican