From the daring adventures of the men of war we now pass on to Umbria’s great artists, the most famous of whom is Pietro Vannucci, known as “Il Perugino” (1450-1523). Born in Città della Pieve, Pietro Vannucci trained for his craft in Arezzo and Florence, in the ateliers of Verrocchio, where he worked side by side with such greats as Leonardo da Vinci, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Lorenzo di Credi, Filippino Lippi, Luca Signorelli and Sandro Botticelli. Vannucci became known by his Florentine colleagues as “il Perugino” in 1501, when he opened his own atelier in Perugia. His work graces the walls of great museums all over the world. Città della Pieve boasts his Adoration of the Magi (1504) in the Oratorio di Santa Maria dei Bianchi and it depicts the adoration as a long procession of grand knights who disappear into the horizon of one of the largest landscapes ever painted by the artist, a landscape in which Lake Trasimeno is easily identified in the distance, albeit somewhat stylized. In Panicale visitors can admire the Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian (1505) at the Chiesa di San Sebastiano. The scene he depicts seems to ignore the blood and features the saint in ecstasy as he willingly accepts the arrows that pierce his pale skin, his face turned upwards to God.
Giovan Battista Caporali (Perugia 1496-1560), an architect and painter, was a pupil of il Perugino and Gianluca Signorelli. Many of his works can be seen in and around the Lake Trasimeno area, works like The Coronation of Mary at the Madonna dei Miracoli sanctuary in Castel Rigone, the Madonna and Child and Angels, also known as the Madonna with the Rose, at the hospital chapel of Castiglione del Lago, the Adoration of the Magi in the Church of San Michele Arcangelo in Panicale and a fresco over the main altar of the Church of the Santissimo Salvatore in Paciano. He was the architect of the cathedral in Panicale and the Municipal Building in Perugia.
The name of Niccolò Circignani (1516-1598), known as “il Pomarancio”, is also closely associated with the Trasimeno area. He moved to Castel della Pieve (today Città della Pieve) in 1563 and never left, gracing many if the area’s buildings with his most important works. Among the frescoes painted by il Pomarancio is the Resurrection, which is in the Sanctuary of Mongiovino (Panicale).
Almost all of the churches in Città della Pieve are graced by one or more of his works and the Palazzo Ducale della Corgna in Castiglione del Lago was decorated mostly by him. Among the many works worth mentioning are those with mythological themes, frescoes entitled the Judgment of Paris and Stories from the Aeneid.
Another illustrious painter is Tommaso di Cristoforo Fini, known as Masolino da Panicale (Panicale 1383 – Florence 1440). He was considered the maestro of Masaccio and travelled extensively spreading Renaissance culture that blended the gothic tradition with the new rules of perspective. Among his many works is a Madonna with Child that hangs in Brema, the Madonna of Humility, which hangs in the Uffizi Galleries in Florence, and the decorations of the Brancacci Chapel in the Carmine church in Pisa.
While il Perugino was an exponent of classic harmonious art, Gerardo Dottori (1884-1977) was one of the greats of the Futurist school of art, the man who invented “aeropainting”. He was fond of painting mystical landscapes, many of which featured Lake Trasimeno and the Umbrian countryside. Among the many works of Dottori in and around the Trasimeno area are the frescoes and the canvas dedicated to Friar Giovanni da Pian di Carpine in the meeting hall of Magione’s Municipal building, the frescoes in the churches in Magione - San Giovanni Battista, San Cristoforo di Montesperello, Santa Maria Annunziata di Montecolognola – and in Tuoro at the Church of Santa Maria Maddalena.
While there are many great craftsmen in the Trasimeno area, those from Piegaro seem to stand out for their skill in working with glass, an activity begun there in the 13th century by Venetian masters. An important request for mosaics destined for the Duomo in Orvieto in the early 1300s launched the activity on an industrial scale with the highest of quality and soon coloured glass and tiles began to be manufactured for the façades and windows of cathedrals being built in Perugia, Milan and Bologna.