Key to Umbria: Perugia

Cesare Franchi, il Pollino (died ca. 1600)

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Cesare Franchi in:  Perugia

Cesare Franchi, who was probably born in Perugia, seems to have been called il Pollino because of his poor eyesight.  This might well explain the fact that he specialised in miniatures.  His early biographers maintain that he worked for important clients in Rome, but all of his known works are in Perugia.  He could be the “maestro Cesare miniatore” who was paid by the Commune in 1583 to decorate a copy of the city statutes.

An appeal made in ca. 1600 to Cardinal Cinzio Passeri Aldobrandini in his capacity as Prefect of the Tribunal of Justice in the Vatican failed to secure the lifting of a death sentence on Cesare Franchi for a murder that he had committed in Perugia during carnival.  He was therefore executed.


Miniatures (ca. 1600)

These are five of eight miniatures by Cesare Franchi that were documented in the 17th century in the oratory of the Confraternita dei Nobili (which was in the Chiesa del Gesù).   Cardinal Scipione Borghese (died 1633) apparently tried to buy them, but without success.   Only these five survived by ca. 1800, when they were mounted in a sculpted panel.  They depict (from the top left):
  1. the Holy Family with angels;

  2. the Madonna and Child in glory with saints;

  3. the Holy Family;

  4. the Assumption of the Virgin; and

  5. the Martyrdom of St Stephen.

They are now in the Galleria Nazionale.

Mystic Marriage of St Catherine (ca. 1600)

This miniature, which is attributed to Cesare Franchi, was in the Convento di Sant’ Agostino.  [Is it still there?]

Miniatures (ca. 1600)

Two miniatures in the Biblioteca Augusta are attributed to Cesare Franchi.  They depict:
  1. the Coronation of the Virgin; and

  2. the Adoration of the Shepherds.

The latter (illustrated here) is unfinished, presumably because it was in progress at the time of Franchi’s arrest.

Read more:

F. Mancini, “Miniatura a Perugia tra Cinquecento e Seicento”, (1987) Perugia pp 36-42

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