Key to Umbria: Montefalco

Maestri di Santa Chiara di Montefalco (14th century)

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Maestri di Santa Chiara in:    Montefalco   Spoleto


Frescoes from Santa Croce (1333)

The autograph works of what seem to be two distinct, unknown masters were painted for the apse of the church of Santa Croce (now the Cappella di Santa Croce in Santa Chiara da Montefalco).  [The inscription below the fresco of the Crucifixion on the altar wall records that] Jean d’ Amiel, the Rector of the Duchy of Spoleto, commissioned them in 1333.

Primo Maestro di Santa Chiara di Montefalco 

The frescoes given to this master are: 

  1. the Crucifixion, a crowded fresco on the altar wall;
  2. the frescoes of the symbols of the Evangelists in the vaults; and

  1. the frescoes on the right wall, which include:

  2. scenes from the lives of SS Clare of Montefalco and Blaise (Biagio), including this one of St Clare’s vision of the Virgin and the baby Jesus; and

  1. the frescoes in the tabernacle, which depict:
  2. -the Madonna and Child with the Archangels Raphael and Gabriel; and

  3. -St Clare’s vision of the Risen Christ implanting a cross in her heart, with the Blessed Joanna.

Secondo Maestro di Santa Chiara di Montefalco 

The frescoes given to this master are those on the left wall, depict: 

  1. death of St Clare of Montefalco, in which St Clare sits up in bed, surrounded by solicitous monks and nuns (illustrated here)
  2. the martyrdom of St Catherine of Alexandria, to the right of it; and

  3. Christ in glory with SS Blaise and Catherine of Alexandria (illustrated below, to the right).


Jean d’ Amiel appears three time in these frescoes:

  1. he kneels with St Mary Magdalene at the foot of the cross in the Crucifixion; and

  2. SS Blaise and Catherine present him to Christ in glory on the left wall.

Frescoes in Santa Maria di Turrita (ca. 1333)

These frescoes in Santa Maria di Turrita, which are attributed to the Primo Maestro di Santa Chiara di Montefalco, comprise:

  1. fragments from the Assumption of the Virgin, above the apse;

  2. the Crucifixion (with the figure of the Crucified Christ almost completely lost), in the apse:

  1. SS Severus and Fortunatus, to the left of the apse;

  1. the upper part of a Madonna and Child, to the right of the apse; and

  1. the Annunciation, on the left wall.


Dossal (14th century)

This long low dossal, which is attributed to the Primo Maestro di Santa Chiara di Montefalco, was documented in 1925, when it was expropriated from Santa Chiara da Montefalco and sent to the Vatican.  It depicts the Crucifixion six scenes from each of the lives of SS Blaise and Catherine of Alexandria.  It seems likely that Jean d’ Amiel commissioned it in 1333 for what was then Santa Croce.  It is now in the Vatican Palace.

Crucifixion and Scenes from the Passion (14th century)

This panel was one of documented in San Francesco (on the Altare del Nome di Gesù) in 1771.  It was documented again at the time of the French invasion of 1798, although by then the second panel had disappeared.  It was subsequently unrecorded until 1973, when Roberto Longhi published details of a panel in the Pinacoteca Vaticana that he attributed to the Primo Maestro di Santa Chiara di Montefalco.  It is now in the deposit of the Pinacoteca Vaticana.


Paliotto di Santa Maria di Ponte (early 14th century)

This damaged rectangular dossal, which is attributed to the Primo Maestro di Santa Chiara di Montefalco, came from Santa Maria di Ponte, Borgo Cerreto outside Spoleto.  It is now in the Museo Diocesano, Spoleto.  It depicts:

  1. Christ in Majesty within a mandorla surrounded by five roundels containing the symbols of the Evangelist and an Agnus Dei;

  2. a censing angel and three standing saints on each side of the upper register; and

  3. the remains of two narrative scenes (an Annunciation and Nativity) and four busts of saints in the lower register.

Madonna and Child with prophets (ca. 1315)

This panel, which is attributed to the Primo Maestro di Santa Chiara di Montefalco came from the church of Santa Maria, Vallo di Nera.  [It was probably painted at about the same time as the frescoes by this artist at Santa Chiara, Montefalco?].  It is now in the Museo Diocesano, Spoleto.

The panel, which probably formed the central panel of a triptych, depicts the baby Jesus  kissing His mother’s cheek.  He wears a Franciscan habit tied with a cord.  The prophets in the spandrels carry scrolls containing Marian prophecies. 

Read more: 
For the works in Rome, see: 
S. Nessi, “Dipinti Provenienti da Montefalco Conservati in Vaticano”, Bollettino dei Musei e Gallerie Pontificie, 11 (1991) 101-7

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