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Puccio Capanna (died after 1350)

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St Francis

Detail from the only documented 

work of Puccio Capanna

Pinacoteca Comunale

A document in the archives of Assisi records that, in 1341, the Capitano del Popolo commissioned ‘Puccius Cappanej et Cecce Saraceni, pictores de Assisio’ to paint images of the Virgin and Child with saints on two of the gates of Assisi: the ‘Porta externa platee nove’ and the ‘Porta Sancti Ruphini’  (a now-demolished gate between San Rufino and Santa Chiara).   These are the only documented works by Puccio Cappana: a fragment of the latter still survives (see below). 

Puccio was also documented in Assisi in 1347, when he sold an ox to the friars of the Sacro Convento.  He seems to have been one of the few artists who continued to work in the Lower Church after the Ghibelline Revolt (1319-22), as set out in the page on San Francesco in the 14th Century

Very different accounts of the oeuvre of Puccio Capanna were given in the two 16th century guides referenced below, although both agree that he was a follower of Giotto

  1. Giorgio Vasari confused Puccio Capanna with another artist who signed a Crucifix in Pistoia as “Puccio di Fiorenza” (Puccio of Florence) and he attributed a number of other works in Tuscany to him that are now known to be by other artists.  He conceded that Puccio later moved to Assisi, where most of his surviving works were found, but he included among these:

  2. the frescoes of scenes from the Passion of Christ in the Lower Church of San Francesco, which are now attributed to Pietro Lorenzetti;

  3. the frescoes of scenes from the life of St Martin in the Lower Church of San Francesco, which are now attributed to Simone Martini; and

  4. the fresco on the altar wall of the Portiuncula, which is signed by the priest Ilario da Viterbo.

  5. Fra. Ludovico da Pietralunga, a friar at San Francesco, Assisi, insisted that Puccio came from that city.  The works that he attributed to Puccio, all of which were in Assisi, are discussed below.  In only one of these cases did Vasari make the same attribution.

Works attributed to Puccio by Fra. Ludovico

Gloria Celeste (ca. 1311)

This now-lost fresco, which seems to have represented an allegory of the stigmatisation of St Francis, was in the apse of the lower Church of San Francesco.  If Fra Ludovico’s attribution were correct, this would be the earliest of Puccio’s works as an independent artist.  However, most scholars follow Lorenzo Ghiberti (writing in ca. 1450) and Vasari in attributing it to Stefano Fiorentino.

Frescoes (ca. 1337)


The frescoes in the Cappella di San Stanislao, in the Lower Church of San Francesco were probably commissioned by the Soldani family and are usually dated to 1337, the year in which Jolo Soldani died.   Vasari attributed them to Tommasa di Stefano, Giottino. However, scholars generally accept Fra Ludovico’s attribution to Puccio Capanna. 

The frescoes depict:

  1. the coronation of the Virgin (unfinished), on the back wall;

  2. two scenes from the life of St Stanislaus, under the arch:

  3. the martyrdom of St Stanislaus, on the left; and

  4. St Stanislaus raising a man from the dead, on the right; and

  5. the Crucifixion with the Virgin and St John the Evangelist, below the scene of the martyrdom of St Stanislaus.

Vasari mistook St Stanislaus for St Nicholas.

Madonna and Child with saints (ca. 1337)

This damaged fresco is in the aedicule on the exterior facade of the Oratorio di San Gregorio.  The original fresco depicted the Madonna and Child enthroned with  SS Catherine of Alexandria and Clare. It was repainted in 1633, and figures of SS Francis and Gregory were aded at the sides of the aedicule.

Elvio Lunghi (referenced below, 1993, p. 6) suggested that the original image of the Virgin was probably the work that Vanni di Bongiovanni financed in her will, which was signed in the presence of Fr Giovanni di Jolo in the sacristy of San Francesco in 1337.  This link with the Soldani family in 1337 (see above) supports the attribution of the original fresco to Puccio Capanna, an attribution made by both Fra. Ludovico and Vasari.

Both Fra. Ludovico and Vasari mentioned a nearby fresco of the Flagellation of Christ, which they also attributed to Puccio Capanna.  Fra. Ludovico also mentioned a third fresco of the Crucifixion, with the same attribution.

Fragment of a Maestà and saints (1341)

This fresco fragment of the baby Jesus and St Francis in the Pinacoteca Comunale comes from one of Puccio’s two documented works: a fresco that the Capitano del Popolo  commissioned from him and from Cecce di Saraceno for Porta San Rufino, a now-demolished gate between San Rufino and Santa Chiara.  It was part of a fresco of the Madonna and Child enthroned with SS Francis and Clare. 

This precious fragment is the only work securely attributable to Puccio Capanna and forms the basis for attributing other works to him on stylistic grounds: the other documented work by these two artists, for another city gate, has been lost. Vasari, who was obviously unaware of the commissioning document, attributed this work to Tommasa di Stefano, Giottino.

Miracle of St Clare (1340s ?)

Both Fra. Ludovico and Vasari described in glowing terms this now lost panel that was above the grate from which the nuns of Santa Chiara observed the Mass.

  1. Vasari attributed the panel to Tommasa di Stefano, Giottino.  

  2. Fra. Ludovico attributed it to Puccio Capanna, and cited the opinions of Dono Doni that:

  3. some of the faces, painted from life, were better than those by Giotto or any other artist of his time; and

  4. the perspectival rendering of a church in the painting was also extraordinarily precocious.

Other Works

Crucifixion with saints (ca. 1337)

This unfinished fresco in the ex-Chapter Room of the Sacro Convento was first documented in 1704.  It is attributed to Puccio Capanna and was probably painted at about the same time as his frescoes in the Cappella di San Stanislao of the Lower Church (above).  The fresco depicts the Crucifixion with:

  1. St Louis of Toulouse, the Virgin and St Paul on the left;

  2. SS John the Evangelist, Peter and Antony of Padua to the right; and

  3. SS Francis and Clare kneeling at the foot of the cross.

Frescoed polyptych (1340s ?)

This fresco, which is attributed to Puccio Capanna, is on the lower part of the altar wall of the Cappella di San Giorgio, Santa Chiara.  It probably originally formed the fictive altarpiece of an altar. 

The fresco depicts the Madonna and Child with SS Clare, John the Baptist, Michael and Francis.  Its lower part has been destroyed. The depiction of St Clare is particularly fine.

Scenes from the Passion (1340s ?)

These frescoes, which are attributed to Puccio Capanna, were detached from a lunette in the Oratorio della Confraternita di San Rufinuccio in 1955 and are now in the Museo Diocesano.

  1. The central fresco depicts the Crucifixion with the Virgin and St John the Evangelist to the sides and SS Mary Magdalene and Francis at the foot of the cross.

  2. The other two scenes depict:

  3. the Flagellation of Christ; and

  4. the Lamentation.

Frescoes (1340s ?)


Two frescoes on the choir screen the ex-church of Sant’ Apollinare (now part of the Monastero di San Giuseppe) are attributed to Puccio Capanna.  They have been badly damaged, not least by the imposition of the wooden ceiling.  They depict:

  1. the Annunciation; and

  2. the lower part of a Crucifixion.

Redeemer blessing (1340s ?)

This fresco in a tondo, which attributed to Puccio Capanna, came from the refectory of the Oratorio di San Crispino.  It is now in the Pinacoteca Comunale.

Annunciation (14th century)

These large fresco fragments, which came from the Oratorio di San Gregorio and are now in the Pinacoteca Comunale, are attributed to Pace di Bartolo.   Elvio Lunghi (referenced below, 2012, p. 286, entry 118) suggested that Puccio Capanna completed the figure of the angel.


Madonna and Child and Crucifixion (ca. 1340)

This small painting on parchment, which  might once have formed the back of a tabernacle, has recently been attributed to Puccio Capanna.  It entered the Accademia di Belle Arti in 1810 from an unknown location and is now in the Galleria Nazionale.  

The two main scenes depict:

  1. the Madonna and Child enthroned, with angels (on the left) and

  2. the Crucifixion with the Virgin and St John the Evangelist (on the right).

Each of these images is surrounded by figures of saints, including a number of Franciscans.

Read more:

16th Century Accounts

G. Vasari, “ Lives of the Artists”, 2nd edition (1568), republished by Everyman’s Library, London (1996) pp 113-5

P. Scarpellini, “Fra Ludovico da Pietralunga: Descrizione della Basilica di San Francesco d’ Assisi”, (1982), Treviso, an analysis of Fra. Ludovico’s guide (ca. 1575), pp 48 and 62-5

Modern Accounts:

E.  Lughi, “Giotto. E I Pittori Giotteschi ad Assisi” , (2012) Marciano

E. Lunghi, “Puccio Capanna nella Confraternita di San Gregorio ad Assisi”, Arte Cristiana 81 (1993) 3-14

F. Cerri et al. (Eds), “Puccio Capanna”, Assisi, (1989)

B. Zanardi, ‘Da Stefano Fiorentino a Puccio Capanna’, Storia dell' Arte, 22 (1978) 115-27

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