Perugino (pārōōjē´nō), c.1445–1523?, Umbrian painter, b. near Perugia. His real name was Pietro di Cristoforo Vannucci. Perugino is, after Raphael, the greatest painter of the Umbrian school. His tenderness of color and simplicity of style evolved into a more contemplative expression in his later years. He studied under Fiorenzo di Lorenzo, assisted Piero della Francesca at Arezzo, and was a fellow pupil of Leonardo da Vinci and Lorenzo di Credi 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 cent. because of its simplicity and clarity of composition. From 1486 to 1491 Perugino worked mainly in Florence. Important works of that period are the Madonna with Saints and Angels (Louvre); Pietà (Pitti Palace, Florence); The Crucifixion, fresco (Santa Maria Maddalena dei Pazzi, Florence); Madonna Enthroned with Saints (Vatican); and The Crucifixion (National Gall. of Art, Washington, D.C.). His last period (1505–23), centering mainly about Umbria, was one of great productivity. He had many pupils and assistants, among them the youthful Raphael. From 1496 to 1498 Perugino worked on the great altarpiece, The Ascension, for San Pietro of Perugia. He also undertook the decoration of the audience hall of the Cambio in Perugia, consisting of allegorical figures and two sacred subjects, Nativity and Transfiguration. In 1500 he painted the altarpiece, Madonna and Saints, for the Certosa of Pavia. Other works of the last period 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: National Gall., London); and Annunciation (National Gall. of Art, Washington, D.C.).
See B. Berenson, Italian Painters of the Renaissance (Vol. II, 1897, repr. 1968); biography by E. Hutton (1907).