Artist: Perugino (Pietro di Cristoforo Vannucci) (Italian, Città della Pieve, active by 1469–died 1523 Fontignano)
Medium: Brush and brown wash, highlighted with white gouache, on gray-green prepared paper (recto); pen and brown ink on unprepared off-white paper (verso)
Dimensions: 8 1/16 × 11 in. (20.4 × 28 cm)
Credit Line: Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 1993
Accession Number: 1993.327
Discovered by George Goldner at auction in 1992, this view of wooded hills descending toward a river is an extremely rare example of a landscape drawing by the artist, and is drawn in a delicate chiaroscuro technique with brown ink and white on a dark ground, full of atmospheric effects. A very similar motif appears in the background of Perugino's Vision of Saint Bernard (Alte Pinakothek, Munich), an altarpiece painted about 1489 for the Nasi Chapel in the Cistercian church of Santa Maria Maddalena di Cestello, known now as Santa Maria Maddalena dei Pazzi, near Florence. The teacher of Raphael (whom he outlived) and one of the painters in highest demand by patrons throughout Italy in the late fifteenth century, Perugino produced major works in Rome, Perugia, Bologna, Cremona, and Florence, as well as in the smaller towns of his native regions of Umbria and the Marches. He is best known for his graceful figural compositions set within monumental architectural backdrops and landscapes which create the exquisitely serene, idyllic mood that his patrons no doubt admired.
(Carmen C. Bambach, 2008, revised 2014)