umbrian follower of Pietro Perugino, The Resurrection of Christ

Photo courtesy of Dave Penman (All Rights Reserved)


Country House
Mells Manor
The Resurrection of Christ
Medium and support
Oil on wood
Overall height: 41 cm, Overall width: 37 cm
umbrian follower of Pietro Perugino
Catalogue Number


This small painting obviously depends from, but is not a reduction of, Perugino’s substantial altarpiece of the Resurrection, now in the Pinacoteca Vaticana, which was painted for the church of San Francesco al Prato in Perugia and is documented to 1499. The pose of Christ is more or less the same and those of the sleeping guards are similar. As Dr Sheri Shaneyfelt has remarked, there is also a relation between the guards in the Mells panel and those in Perugino’s predella panel of the Resurrection, now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (11.65).1 The predella with which this is associated is generally connected with the Pala Chigi, in San Agostino in Siena, which was finished in 1506 but, in the opinion of the present writer, its palette and tonality suggest a later date in Perugino’s career. The pose of Christ in the Metropolitan painting is actually a little closer to that in Perugino’s earliest (it seems) and most adventurous treatment of the Resurrection in the predella panel now in Rouen (Musée des Beaux-Arts, D803.36), from the San Pietro polyptych of 1496–9, but in this the figures of the guards are entirely different.

The most likely dating of the Mells picture would be in the first two or three decades of the Cinquecento. Perugino had many followers and a large workshop and his style proved dominant. The process of sorting out his followers is still under way but this picture does seem to be by a distinctive hand with a somewhat richer palette than Perugino’s, notably in the landscape, and with a fleshier, less slender form of Christ; the guards, however, although quite lavishly decorated, are not as well structured as those of Perugino. The lid of the sarcophagus, as it were spilled and leaning on it, is very different from that in any of Perugino’s treatments and implies a mind of some individuality.

One name that arose was Giannicola di Paolo, on whom Dr Shaneyfelt is the leading expert. Although she does not believe it to be by Giannicola, the present writer would not, however, exclude that it might be by an associate. Dr Kanter, whom the writer consulted about this painting, thinks that it is probably not attributable and is effectively an artisanal production by one of those painters who continued to reproduce Peruginesque forms until the mid-sixteenth century. The dense, oily, technique suggests to him a relatively late date.2

by Paul Joannides


  1. Dr Sheri Shaneyfelt, private communication, 2020.

  2. Dr Laurence Kanter, private communication, 2020.


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