By Costanza Beltrami

Painter Benedetto Bonfigli died on 8 July 1496 in Perugia. He probably trained in the same city between 1430 and 1440, where he absorbed the dominant Late Gothic style. Later on, he was also influenced by Fra Angelico, Domenico Veneziano, and Gentile da Fabriano.

In the 1450s, Bonfigli worked at the Vatican Palace in Rome, where he received the same salary as Benozzo Gozzoli, then an highly regarded painter at the papal court. Unfortunately, none of this work survives.

The period from 1450 to 1470 was the height of Bonfigli’s career, when Bonfigli returned to Perugia and completed his masterpiece, the frescoes in the Prior’s Chapel in the Palazzo dei Priori. Another remarkable work is the Adoration of the Magi altarpiece in the Galleria Nazionale in Perugia, painted in 1466 and mentioned by the famous sixteenth century historian Giorgio Vasari. Revealing the influence of Fra Filippo Lippiand Netherlandish painting, the work hints to the painter’s possible travels to Florence and elsewhere in Italy.

Despite these possible travels, Bonfigli also specialized in a local and typically Perugian art form, the gonfaloni, canvas or linen banners carried by confraternities during processions and celebrations.

Vasari described Bonfigli as the most celebrated painter active in Perugia before Perugino; nevertheless, his fame declined during the last years of his life as he did not adapt to the new style of Antonio del Pollaiuolo and Andrea Verrocchio, which caused a revolution in Perugian art.

Reference: P. Scarpellini. “Bonfigli, Benedetto.” Grove Art Online. Oxford University Press,

Annunciation, late 15th century, tempera and gold on panel. Perugia, National Gallery of Umbria. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Annunciation, c. 1455, tempera and gold on panel. Madrid, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza. Source: Web Gallery of Art.

Gonfalone di San Francesco al prato, 1464, painting on cloth. Perugia, Oratory of St Bernardino. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Totila’s siege of Perugia, from scenes of the life of St Louis of Tolouse, Cappella dei Priori, Palazzo dei Priori, Perugia. Source: Key to Umbria.

Translation to San Pietro, from scenes of the life of St Louis of Tolouse, Cappella dei Priori, Palazzo dei Priori, Perugia. Source: Key to Umbria.

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