Pietro Vannucci, called
(Città della Pieve circa 1450- Fontignano 1523)
St Benedict; St Flavia; St Placidus, 1496-99
"tempera" grassa on wood
The three panels formed part of the predella of a polyptych for the high altar of the Church of S. Pietro in Perugia for which Perugino was given a commission in 1495 and which he began the following year. The work was dismantled when the church was restored (1591). The central panel illustrated the Ascension with the twelve Apostles, the Virgin and angels. Above it appeared God in glory, while the predella contained: the Adoration of the Magi, the Baptism of Christ, the Resurrection and two panels with the Patron Saints of Perugia. Finally there were six panels on the bases of the columns that flanked the Ascension. These illustrated Benedictine Saints and among them were those now in the Vatican: St Benedict, founder of the order to which the monks who ordered the work belonged; St Flavia and her brother Placidus, disciple of St Benedict, martyred in Messina during an incursion of the Saracens. The figures, which repeat ideal types that are recurrent in Perugino's work, are painted with elegance of colours and meticulous detail.