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Only two more months to wait.......

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I have only two more months to wait until my next trip to Italy, plenty of time to finalize plans that include almost a week in the city of Perugia. There are so many wonderful things that I love about this city, capital of Umbria province and just across a valley from mystical Assisi. Perugia has some fantastic art, including this fresco which was one of Raphael's first of this kind and likely his only piece of art that is actually left in the city where he studied for roughly four years under the master Perugino.

It seems that pretty much everything Raphael created during his years in Perugia have been whisked away to the world's great art galleries. However, frescos aren't so easily shifted, and so this "Holy Trinity with Saints" rests in a small chapel in the church of San Severo in the centre of medieval Perugia.

In Giorgio Vasari's "Lives of the Artists" (published in 1550 and admittedly, not always the best source when it comes to Umbrian artists!) Vasari writes: "...and for the Lady Chapel in San Severo (a small monastery of the Order of Camaldoli) he (Raphael) did a fresco painting of Christ in Glory and a God-the-Father with angels around him and six seated figures of saints: St Benedict, St Romuald, St Lawrence, St Jerome, St Maurus, and St Placid, three on each side.

"On this work, which was at that time regarded as an extremely beautiful example of fresco, Raphael signed his name in big, very legible characters," writes Vasari.

Raphael apparently began this fresco in 1505, but before he finished the work, he was called away to Rome to begin his stanze in the Vatican. After Raphael's untimely death in 1520 at just 37, his teacher Perugino painted several saints underneath.

I am a huge fan of Raphael and made a pilgrimage to San Severo on my first full day in Perugia last year. It's not hard to find, even though the church itself is shut up and has actually been deconsecrated. However, the small chapel where Raphael painted this fresco is open to rare visitors (I sat there for a half hour and saw only two other people drift in and out!)

This, to me, is a small but appealing element of visiting Umbria. Not a lot of other people around! I still marvel at the fact that I can sit alone for as long as I like with a great work of art. I admit, this fresco isn't in very good condition, but to me that's part of its appeal. It feels very real, very authentic in its slightly raggedy state!

I don't have any good photos of my own from last year's visit to Perugia but I'll make up for that this year. Meanwhile, thanks to Wikipedia, I have this photo of the fresco which will have to do for now.....

As a bit of background, Vasari says that Raphael "was born in Urbino, a notable Italian city, on Good Friday in the year 1483, at three o'clock in the night. His father was Giovanni Santi, a mediocre painter but an intelligent man who knew how to set his children on the right path which, through bad fortune, he himself had not been shown when young."

Comments (14)

Thank God for frescos. :)

Sandra, I am so excited for you!! I can't wait to see pictures this time and know you will have a wonderful time. I wish I was half as knowledgeable as you are with art. I just look and appreciate but usually have no idea about the significance of the art (unless it is posted somewhere).

sandrac:

Exactly, Leslie! They're so beautiful in and of themselves, but it's also wonderful to see art where it was actually created.

Thanks Girasoli, I wish I really were more knowledgeable! I think in my next life, I'll be an art historian (living in Italy, of course!)

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Sandra, great photo of this very beautiful Fresco. I agree with you that some things don't have to be bright and shiney to really be appreciated. I have not yet been to Perugia and so I am looking forward to reading about your experiences this fall, maybe for a possible future trip!.) How exciting for you!

Thanks for sharing your photo and for the very interesting read this morning.

Brad'll Do It:

After a couple of visits, we have yet to discover the charm of Perugia, tho' it seemed like a great site for the Umbrian Jazz Festival when we saw the Hayward State Jazz Band there last year. Perugia would be an interesting discussion over that caffe we're not going to have together in Bologna, and I'd even buy you a glass of wine. Oh, well....

It's really pretty amazing how much he accomplished in such a short life. I was very moved to see his tomb in the Pantheon. And I agree about less-than-perfect frescoes being so moving and beautiful regardless of condition!

sandrac:

Kathy, Annie -- I really love frescos because there seems to be something so authentic about them. And the colours can be so rich (maybe the contrast with the plaster emphasizes that!) Kathy, if you get an opportunity to visit Umbria, I think you'd love it.

Brad, perhaps next year you and Palma will get a chance to spend more time in Perugia, when you're staying in Umbria. It has that great mix of great food, great wine, great art -- and great shopping!

Sandra - what a lovely photo. The treasures of Italy never cease to amaze me - it is because of this that I try and go into every church we see - often the most fascinating are in the places you'd least expect to find them.

sandrac:

Jerry, that's so true -- you never know in Italy what gems you'll stumble upon!

Hello Sandrac,

I feel like we may well be kindred spirits: our mutual love for art "in context", and our dedication to discovering the lesser-known artistic gems seems to bond us. PLEASE let's meet when you are in Umbria in September. Can you stop by Genius Loci? I would treasure that opportunity to meet and share a bit of our lives!
Mary

sandrac:

Thanks very much, Mary -- I can tell by the photos of your wonderful home that you really love beauty! I know that I'd enjoy meeting you and would definitely like to come by Genius Loci when I'm in the area.

Oh I'd love to be there with you two at Genius Loci for a glass of wine or cappuccino!

Hello Palma...and Sandra.

We would indeed make quite a trio! Maybe someday we can be all together at the same time and just let conversation and good times roll. Now, that would be a treat! I will count on your stopping by, Sandra.

Mary

sandrac:

Palma, Mary -- we'll have to try to plan to all meet sometime, somewhere in Italy! In the meantime, Mary, I'm looking forward to meeting you in September.

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