Key to Umbria: Orvieto

Ludovico Mazzanti (1686–1775)

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Ludovico Mazzanti in:  Città di Castello     Orvieto     Perugia

Ludovico Mazzanti, who was born in Rome, but he had also close links to his father’s birthplace, Orvieto.  He trained under Francesco Trevisani and Giovanni Battista Gaulli in Rome.  One of his most important commissions there was for four large altarpieces in Sant’ Andrea al Quirinale.   He is recorded as a member of the Accademia di San Luca, Rome from 1703.

Mazzanti worked in Orvieto for a brief period in 1713-4.  He then developed his career in Rome.  He worked in Naples in 1733-40 and then spent short periods in a number of places, including: Orvieto (1740-4); Perugia (1746); Città di Castello (1748).   He spent the period 1757-68 in Orvieto, but declared in 1762 that he was “finished with painting”.

A list of his works that Ludovico Mazzanti compiled in 1770 survives in the archives of Orvieto.  His followers included Filippo Naldini.


Fragment of the Coronation of the Virgin (1713-4)

This fragment of the Virgin, which came from the mosaic that was designed by Ludovico Mazzanti for the tympanum of the facade of the Duomo, is now in Room V of the Museo dell' Opera del Duomo.   The design was based on the altarpiece by Giovanni Lanfranco that is also now in the museum. 

The new mosaic, which was probably the first work by Mazzani in his native city, replaced a mosaic (1568) of the Resurrection of Christ.  It began to deteriorate almost immediately, and was finally replaced in its turn in 1842-7.

Madonna and Child with saints (1713-4)

This altarpiece [the deposit of the Museo dell’ Opera del Duomo] depicts the Madonna and Child in glory with SS Augustine and Monica.  St Monica holds the Virgin’s belt, which she has received from the baby Jesus.  In the list of his works that Ludovico Mazzanti recorded in 1770, he noted that he had painted it for his family chapel in Sant’ Agostino.

Christ in glory with saints (1713-4)

This altarpiece in Sant’ Andrea depicts Christ in clouds pointing to one of two male saints below. In the list of his works that Ludovico Mazzanti recorded in 1770, he says that it was on the Altare di Francesco di Paolo in the church, and that it depicted “an apparition of Christ who points to charity”.  It is likely that Christ is pointing to St Francis of Paola, and that this is observed in a vision by the second saint, perhaps St Francis Sales.

Assumption of the Virgin (1714)

Girolamo Curzio Clementini commissioned this huge altarpiece from Ludovico Mazzanti for his altar on the left of counter-façade of the Duomo.  It was removed when the altar was demolished in 1879 and is now in the Sala delle Sinopie of the Museo dell’ Opera del Duomo.

Girolamo Curzio Clementini (ca. 1716) 

This portrait, which is attributed to Ludovico Mazzanti, depicts Girolamo Curzio Clementini, who had moved to Orvieto from Amelia in 1680 and who subsequently served as the head of the Opera del Duomo.  The inscription records his death in 1716, and the portrait was probably painted just before this event.  It is now in the Sala delle Sinopie of the Museo dell’ Opera del Duomo.

Triumph of angels (1735)

This altarpiece is on the 1st altar on the left in SS Apostoli.  An inscription in a plaque held by the angels, which was discovered when the altarpiece was restored in 1995-6, gave the date of the work and identified the artist as Ludovico Mazzanti.  It was thus painted during his stay in Naples.

Panels in San Francesco (ca. 1773)

The Saracinelli family commissioned three panels in the presbytery of San Francesco from Ludovico Mazzanti during his stay in Orvieto in 1757-68.  However, as noted above, he effectively retired in 1762, and the works  are attributed to Filippo Naldini and other followers.  They depict:

  1. the [vision of St Gregory IX];

  2. the stigmatisation of St Francis; and

  3. the Virgin offers the baby Jesus to [St Antony of Padua], with [St Nicholas] below, which includes the Saracinelli arms.

Città di Castello

Frescoes (1751)

Ludovico Mazzanti competed for the commission for the frescoes of the presbytery of the Duomo in 1745, but the canons decided instead on Marco Benefial after Cardinal Domenico Orsini and other members of the papal court had exerted pressure in his favour.  He was however successful in winning the commission to fresco the cupola in 1749-51.  These frescoes were mostly lost in the earthquake of 1789. 


                   St Matthew                       St Mark                                St Luke                                   St John

  1. Only those of the four Evangelists in the pendentives survive. 


  1. These designs for them are exhibited in the Museo del Duomo.

Altarpieces (ca. 1751)


These altarpieces by Ludovico Mazzanti on the side altars of the church of Santa Chiara delle Muratedepict:

  1. St Francis receiving the stigmata (on the left wall); and

  2. SS Anne and Joachim presenting the Virgin at the Temple, with God the Father and a dove representing the Holy Spirit above (on the right wall).


St Bernard Tolomei helping victims of plague (1746)

This panel by Ludovico Mazzanti from the Monastero degli Olivetani di Montemorcino Nuovo depicts the work of the Olivetan St Bernard Tolomei during the Black Death in 1348.  It is now in the Galleria Nazionale.  (It is illustrated in the website Cultura Italia).

Read more:

This article by Giovan Battista Crocoli contains more detailed information.

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