Key to Umbria: Perugia

Two important bronze sculptures in Umbria are signed by a man called Rubeus:

  1. the bronze upper basin (1277) of the Fontana Maggiore, Perugia is inscribed “Rubeus me fecit anno domini MCCLXXVII” (Rubeus made me in 1277); and

  2. the bronze architrave (late 13th century) of the Porta di Postierla of the Duomo, Orvieto is  inscribed: “Rubeu[s] fec[it] h[oc] op[us]”  (Rubeus made this work).

Since both of these projects can be linked to Fra. Bevignate, it is possible that Rubeus, like Fra. Bevignate, was based in Perugia at this time.

In the next phase of his career, Rubeus probably worked in Orvieto under Ramo di Paganello, who seems to have been capomaestro of the Duomo there in ca. 1302-10 (see below).


Fontana Maggiore (1277-8)


In 1277, the Commune of Perugia sought the permission of the Prior General of the Sylvestrine Order for the appointment of Fra Bevignate as “superstans fontis et operis conductus” (supervisor of the work on Fontana Maggiore,.  He seems to have been extraordinarily effective, because the work was completed in 1278.

The upper basin is cast in bronze and carries an inscription that translates:

"Rubeus made (i.e. cast) me in 1277, at the time of Podestà Geraldino dei Boschetti and Capitano del Popolo Anselmo di Alzate.  Those responsible for the work were the Benedictine Fra. Bevignate and Boninsegna".  

Another inscription at the base of the column that sustains the basin translates:

"At the time of Matteo da Correggio and Ermanno da Sassoferrato" (who were respectively Podestà and Capitano del Popolo in 1278).

Water enters this upper basin of the fountain through a bronze group of three female water carriers supporting an amphora.  This element of the fountain is a modern copy: the original (illustrated above, to the right) was removed during restoration in 1948 and is now in the Galleria Nazionale.  The group was cast as a single piece, perhaps by Rubeus.  The design is sometimes attributed to Nicolò and Giovanni Pisano.  


Monument of the Emperor of Constantinople (ca. 1300)

The Monument of the Emperor of Constantinople in the Lower Church of San Francesco bears the arms of Philip of Courtenay, the son-in-law of King Charles I of Naples and titular Emperor of Constantinople.  He lived at the Angevin court in Naples until his death in 1283, a year after a planned campaign to re-take Constantinople had been aborted.  The monument might have been commissioned in his honour, or perhaps in honour of his daughter,  Catherine I of Courtenay, who was titular Empress of Constantinople from 1283 to her death in 1307.

The monument has been attributed to Ramo di Paganello and/or Rubeus.  If this is correct, it was probably executed:

  1. in the period 1302-10, when Ramo di Paganello was capomaestro at Orvieto and Rubeus apparently worked under him; or

  2. in the subsequent period, when Ramo di Paganello was at the Angevin court at Naples.

At the centre of the monument, angels draw back (or perhaps close) drapes in front of an effigy lying in a funerary chamber.  This motif almost certainly derives from the monument (ca. 1282) to Cardinal Guillaume de Bray in San Domenico, Orvieto, which is the earliest surviving signed work by Arnolfo di CambioThe space above the effigy is occupied by two figures:

  1. a crowned figure sitting on a faldstool stool that rests on the back of a lion; and

  2. a figure of the Madonna  and Child enthroned, to the right. 

In its present arrangement, the monument is housed in a Gothic aedicule, the base of which contains:
  1. six small figures of saints (two at each end and two at the front, one of which is illustrated here); and

  2. the reliefs of the arms of Philip of Courtenay mentioned above. 


Architrave of Porta di Postierla (ca. 1310)

The sculpture of this magnificent portal seems to belong to the last phase of construction of the Duomo (ca. 1310), and in particular is close to the sculpture of the capitals of the two pairs of columns in the nave that are closest to the facade. 

  1. Its design and sculpted elements are attributed to Ramo di Paganello, who seems to have been capomaestro of the Duomo in ca. 1302-10. 

  2. The bronze architrave, which depicts Christ and the Apostles, is inscribed:

Rubeu[s] fec[it] h[oc] op[us]

Rubeus made this work

It is likely that Rubeus executed the work under the direction of Ramo di Paganello.

Statues of Pope Boniface VIII (ca. 1300)


                                        Figure from Porta Maggiore       Figure from Porta Postierla

When the Commune wanted to honour Pope Boniface VIII in 1297, it commissioned these marble statues (now in the left aisle) for the niches in two of the city gates:

  1. the one from Porta Maggiore is is attributed to Ramo di Paganello; and

  2. the other from Porta Postierla is is attributed to his presumed associate, Rubeus. 

These figures, which were removed in 1860, are both badly damaged.  They are now (as at 2007) in San Francesco

The figure from Porta Maggiore still retains its head and arms: the right arm is raised in blessing and the left hand holds a book that has been identified as the Liber Sextus delle Decretali (1298).  The form of headgear is that adopted by Boniface VIII after he had inaugurated the first Jubilee Year in 1300.


Female saint (ca. 1296)

This sculpted figure of a female saint in the crypt of the Duomo has been attributed to Rubeus.  It stands near two sculptural groups of higher quality (sometimes attributed to Giovanni Pisano) that came from funerary monument of Bishop Nicholas II, who was buried in the Duomo in 1296.  It is possible that the female saint came from the same monument.  [Original location and disposition]

Read more:

E. Lunghi, “Rubeus me Fecit”: Scultura in Umbria alla Fine del Duecento”, Studi di Storia dell’ Arte, 2 (1991) 9-32

G. Kreytenberg, “La Tomba dell’ Imperatore Latino di Costantinopoli”, Studi di Storia dell’ Arte, 8 (1997) 9-48

Return to Art in:  Assisi    Orvieto     Perugia   Todi. 


Rubeus (late 13th/ early 14th century)

Umbria:  Home   Cities    History    Art    Hagiography    Contact 


Perugia:  Home    History   Art    Saints    Walks    Monuments    Museums 

Rubeus in:  Assisi    Orvieto     Perugia   Todi