Key to Umbria: Perugia

Self-portrait of Baldassarre Orsini

Detail of a panel (1767) from the Duomo

Now in the Museo Capitolare

Baldassarre Orsini, who came from Perugia, was an artist, architect and writer.  He was the director of the Accademia di Belle Arti there from 1790 until his death in 1810.  He wrote an important guide to Perugia in 1784, entitled “Guida al Forestiere per l’ Augusta Città di Perugia” (see the reference below).


Scenes from the Life of St Laurence (1767-8)


The panels in the apse of the Duomo are by two different artists:

  1. two are by Carlo Spiridione Mariotti:

  2. St Laurence accompanying Pope Sixtus to his execution; and

  3. St Laurence baptises his fellow-prisoners; and

  4. two are by Baldassarre Orsini, as described in his “Guida di Perugia”:

  5. St Laurence distributing arms, which includes his self-portrait (see above); and

  6. the martyrdom of St Laurence.

Scenes from the Life of St Laurence (18th century)


These two panels in the Museo Capitolare, which presumably came from the Duomo and are attributed to Baldassarre Orsini, depict:

  1. St Laurence distributing arms; and

  2. the martyrdom of St Laurence.

Arco di Trionfo (18th century)

This arch in the Giardini del Frontone  is by Baldassarre Orsini.


Vision of St Philip Neri (1781)

This panel, which was documented on the high altar of Santa Maria sopra Minerva in 1844, is signed by Baldassarre Orsini and dated by inscription.  It depicts the Immaculate Virgin appearing to St Philip Neri.  He is depicted here in the way that he had been depicted in a venerated image by Guido Reni in their mother church in Rome (which is is now replaced there by this copy in mosaic). 

The panel from Santa Maria sopra Minerva was removed from the high altar there in 1896 and is now in the Museo Diocesano.

Panels in Santa Maria degli Angeli


Baldassarre Orsini signed these two panels for the Cappella di San Diego d’ Alcalà of Santa Maria degli Angeli:

  1. a panel (1787) depicting Pope Honorius III confirming the Portiuncula Indulgence; and

  2. a panel (undated) depicting  the architect Galeazzo Alessi submitting his design for the church to Pope Pius V.

The history of this commission is more complicated than this suggests.  Baldassarre Orsini recorded that these two works were commissioned from himself and Carlo Spiridione Mariotti in 1787.

  1. Orsini adds that he finished the first of them in 1803, after a delay caused by sad circumstances.  This was probably a reference to the death of Mariotti, which occurred in 1790.  The panel, which is dated by inscription, seems to be essentially his work.  It remains in the Cappella di San Diego d’ Alcalà.

  2. Orsini says nothing more about the second panel.  Although he signed it, it seems likely that Mariotti had largely completed it before his death.  It is now in the Cappella del Rosario; the circumstances in which it was moved there are unknown.

Read more:

A. Bellocchi, “Baldassarre Orsini: L' Attivita Pittorica, 1732-1810”, (2008) Perugia

B. Tosacano, “La Guida di Perugia di Baldassarre Orsini”, (1973) Rome

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Baldassarre Orsini (1732-1810) 

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