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Pietro Perugino and Filippino Lippi, Deposition of the Cross, 1503-1506, Florence, Galleria dell’Accademia

Travel guide for Tuscany

Pietro Perugino
| The Annunziata Polyptych


The Annunziata Polyptych is a painting cycle started by Filippino Lippi and finished by Pietro Perugino, whose central panel is now divided between the Galleria dell'Accademia (Deposition from the Cross) and the Basilica dell'Annunziata, both in Florence, Italy. The polyptych had other six panels, which are housed in the Lindenau-Museum of Altenburg, the Metropolitan Museum of New York, the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica in Rome and in a private collection in South Africa.
Perugino was active in Perugia, Florence and Rome in the late 15th century and early 16th. Although he is now known mainly as the teacher of Raphael, he made a significant contribution to the development of painting from the style of the Early Renaissance to the High Renaissance. The compositional model he introduced, combining the Florentine figural style with an Umbrian use of structure and space, was taken up by Raphael and became widely influential throughout Europe.


The work was originally commissioned to Filippino Lippi for the high altar of the Annunziata Basilica in Florence. Lippi had already ceded the same commission to Leonardo da Vinci, who had executed a cartoon with St. Anne, the Virgin and the Child, before abandoning the work when he followed Cesare Borgia (1502). The work was thus re-assigned to Lippi, who changed completely the theme. At his death in 1504 the painting, already completed in the central part, was assigned to Pietro Perugino, who completed it, including the secondary panels, in 1507.

Once finished, the painting was sharply criticized by the Florentines, due to the alleged lack of originality of the composition. At the time, Perugino was often re-using the same cartoons, due to big number of commissions. The Annunciation altarpiece was thus Perugino's last work in Florence.


The work was originally painted on two sides: the Annunciation facing the faithful, and the Deposition from the Cross facing the choir. After the panel was split in two, the latter was moved in the Grand Duke's collections, and then to the Gallerie dell'Accademia. The Annunciation remained in the church, and was later moved to the Rabatta Chapel. The polyptych had a frame designed by Baccio d'Agnolo.

The Deposition shows the moment in which Jesus Christ is taken down from the cross after his death. Four men are carrying out the task by using ladders. On the ground, at the left, is the Virgin, fainting and supported by the other Pious Women. The character praying at the cross' feet is Mary Magdalene. On the right, caught in a surprised posture, is St. John the Apostle; in front of him, on the ground, are the nails of the crucifixion.



Pietro Perugino and Filippino Lippi, Deposition of the Cross, 1503-1506, Florence, Galleria dell’Accademia

Assumption of the Virgin (detail)

According to Giorgio Vasari, Lippi executed the upper part of the painting. Jesus, left unfinished, was completed by Perugino in the face. The latter also painted the lower part of the work, characterized by his typical serene faces and the distant landscape. Perugino's assistants painted a great number of details, especially in the side panels.

The polyptych could have completed by a predella, now divided between several American museums. It included:

Nativity, 26.7x42.6 cm, Art Institute of Chicago [2]
Baptism of Christ, 26.7x42.6 cm, Art Institute of Chicago [3]
The Samaritan Girl at the Pit, 26,7x42.6 cm, Art Institute of Chicago [4]
Noli me tangere, 26.7x42.6 cm, Art Institute of Chicago [5]
Resurrection of Christ, 27x45.7 cm, New York, Metropolitan Museum [6]

It has been suggested that these five scenes may have formed the predella of the main altarpiece in the church of Santissima Annunziata in Florence [7]. This idea has now been largely rejected, and Christiansen has tentatively identified the predella with the altarpiece for the Chigi chapel in Sant'Agostino, Siena, commissioned in 1502. [7]



Assumption of the Virgin, panel, 333 x 218 cm SS. Annunziate, Florence

The predella

  "This exceptionally well-preserved picture is one of five that probably formed a predella to an altarpiece of the Crucifixion painted in 1502 for the church of Sant'Agostino, Siena. The remaining four scenes are in the Art Institute of Chicago and show the "Nativity," the "Baptism of Christ," "Christ and the Woman of Samaria," and the "Noli me Tangere." They are executed with the loose brushwork and pale colors Perugino employed after about 1500. An attractive feature of the present picture is the feigned frame lit from the left."

Along with four works in the Art Institute of Chicago, this panel formed the predella of an altarpiece. The Chicago pictures have been transferred from panel to canvas. They depict the Adoration of the Christ Child, the Baptism of Christ, Christ and the Woman of Samaria, and the Noli me Tangere.
Resurrection of Christ, 27x45.7 cm, New York, Metropolitan Museum     


Nativity, 26.7x42.6 cm, Art Institute of Chicago     


Baptism of Christ, 26.7x42.6 cm, Art Institute of Chicago     


The Samaritan Girl at the Pit, 26,7x42.6 cm, Art Institute of Chicago      


Noli me tangere, 26.7x42.6 cm, Art Institute of Chicago     



Gallerie dell'Accademia. Florence: Giunti (1999).

Garibaldi, Vittoria (2004). "Perugino". Pittori del Rinascimento. Florence: Scala.

[7] Federico Zeri. "Appunti sul Lindenau-Museum di Altenburg." Bollettino d'arte 49 (January–March 1964), p. 52, tentatively suggests that the five scenes of the predella, divided between the MMA and Chicago may have formed the predella of the main altarpiece of the church of Santissima Annunziata, Florence.

Federico Zeri with the assistance of Elizabeth E. Gardner. Italian Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Sienese and Central Italian Schools. New York, 1980, pp. 59–61, pl. 68, date the five scenes about 1503–5 and state that they probably composed the predella of an altarpiece in a Florentine church, possibly Santissima Annunziata [see Refs. Zeri 1964 and Laclotte 1965].

Keith Christiansen. "Early Renaissance Narrative Painting in Italy." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 41 (Fall 1983), pp. 31–32, fig. 24 (color), suggests that it may have formed part of the predella of Perugino's altarpiece for the church of Sant'Agostino, Siena, commissioned in 1502.

Sylvia Ferino Pagden in Die Kirchen von Siena. part 1, 1, Munich, 1985, p. 66, rejects the association of the five scenes with the Chigi altar in the church of Sant'Agostino, stating that it would be unlikely for the predella of that altarpiece to include the Resurrection, which was already depicted in terracotta as part of the framework of the altarpiece. [Souce: The Metropolitan Museum of Art]

Arte in Toscana | Giorgio Vasari, Le vite de' più eccellenti pittori, scultori e architettori (1550) | Pietro Perugino

Page at Florence's Museums website (Italian) |

Pietro Perugino and the Trasimeno lake scenary | Renaissance and Mannerism Painting in Città della Pieve, Paciano, Panicale and Castiglione del Lago

Podere Santa Pia, a thoughtfully restored holiday rental house located on the edge of the nature reserve Poggio all'Olmo, in the foothills of the dramatic Monte Amiata, boasts stunning views over the Maremma countryside, as far as the sea and the Island of Monta Christo
Podere Santa Pia, a thoughtfully restored holiday rental house is located in the magic Monte Amiata area, cuddled by the sweet hills of the Maremma Region. The towns of Montalcino, Pienza and Montepulciano are all within easy driving distance. More to the south are Roccalbegna, Saturnia, Pitigliano, Sovana and Sorano. And of course the Tyrrhenian coast, just forty minutes drive awa,y provides an enormous choice of beaches.

Santa Pia is within walking distance to the centre of Castiglioncello Bandini, a typical medieval borgo in the province of Tuscany, and enjoys a great dominating position with stunning views over the countryside.

Holiday houses in Tuscany | Podere Santa Pia | Artist and writer's residency


Podere Santa Pia
Podere Santa Pia, garden
Century-old olive trees, between Podere Santa Pia and Cinigiano
Rocca d'Orcia, Rocca di Tentennano
Lago Trasimeno
Rocca d'Orcia
San Quirico d'Orcia, Leonini Gardens

Cypress-Lined Montichiello Road, south of Pienza, Val d'Orcia, Tuscany
Spoleto, Duomo
Cipress road near Montichiello


Even today the Maremma remains a largely undiscovered gem in the heart of Italy, sandwiched between the stunning Monte Amiata on its eastern fringes and the beautiful Tyrrhenian coast to the west.


Podere Santa Pia offers the most exclusive privacy to enjoy a breathtaking view and have a comfortable, regenerating holiday


The Piazza della Santissima Annunziata and Basilica dell'Annunziata

One of the most beautiful piazzas in Florence, Piazza della Santissima Annunziata exemplifies the stylistic harmony of some of the greatest architects of the Renaissance. The church that gives the piazza its name, the Santissima Annunziata, lies behind the central portico of the piazza.

The area of the piazza was chosen in 1250 as a space for a little church. At the time the piazza lay in open countryside outside the walls of Florence, in an area called Cafaggio. The church houses the Miraculous Annunciation, a masterpiece that according to legend was painted by an angel. The church became the destination of pilgrimages and processions and it soon became necessary to expand the church and the piazza, in addition to connecting it to the city center.

The piazza is flanked by the Brunelleschi-designed and La Robbia-decorated façade of the Spedale degli Innocenti which was the first orphanage in Europe.The building is inspired by classical models that Brunelleschi studied in Rome. Under the loggia of the hospital, is still possible to observe the famous wheel where you could anonymously leave babies by placing them into a cavity that opened as the wheel turned. Ophans were called "Innocents", which is still how they are commonly called in Florence. The Spedale today houses a museum as well as some offices of UNICEF.
Giambologna's last statue, of Ferdinando I de' Medici, was finished by his student Pietro Tacca and sits in the center of the piazza. Tacca also designed the two Baroque bronze fountains on the piazza.
On the south side of the piazza lies the Palazzo Gattai Puddings, formerly Palazzo Grifoni, built in 1563-1574 by Bartolomeo Ammannati for the Secretary of Cosimo di Jacopo Ugolino Grifoni.
Since November 2006, the ancient entrance to the National Archaeological Museum of Florence has been reopened in the piazza, after being closed due to major damage from the flood of Florence in 1966.

The Basilica della Santissima Annunziata (Basilica of the Most Holy Annunciation) is a Roman Catholic minor basilica in Florence, Italy, the mother church of the Servite order. It is located at the northeastern side of the Piazza Santissima Annunziata.

The Piazza della Santissima Annunziata

Basilica dell'Annunziata

The Galleria dell'Accademia


The Galleria dell'Accademia Museum, hosting Michelangelo's and old Florentine masterpieces. Over time the Gallery has become one of the main museums in town, also thanks to the acquisition of some extraordinary masterpieces, such as the "Pieta" by Giovanni da Milano (14th century); the "Annunciation" by Lorenzo Monaco (15th century); the splendid frontal called "Cassone Adimari" showing a sumptuous marriage procession (c. 1450), the "Madonna of the Sea"attributed to Botticelli (1445-1510) and the Descent from the cross by Filippino Lippi and Pietro Perugino
(1506 c). In 1873, when Michelangelo's David was exhibited for the first time on a specially arranged tribune. For protection purposes, the statue was in fact removed from Piazza Signoria where it had represented for over four centuries the strengh and dignity of the Florentine Republic.


This article incorporates material from the Wikipedia articles Pietro Perugino and Annunziata Polyptych published under the GNU Free Documentation License. Wikimedia Commons has media related to Pala dell'Annunziata.