Key to Umbria: Todi

Pietro Paolo Sensini (1555-1632)

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Pietro Paolo Sensini in:  Orvieto    Todi

Pietro Paolo Sensini was born into a prominent family in Todi.  [Worked in Todi with Ferraù Fenzoni, and then with Bartolomeo Barbiani and Andrea Polinari].  He served on the city council in 1619. He held a number of other public posts, including the directorship of workshops at the Tempio del Santissimo Crocifisso(1589-92), San Fortunato (1624) and San Francesco (1626).   Almost all of the works by or attributed to him are in or near Todi.


Works in the Museo della Città

The following are in the Museo della Città:

Madonna and Child in glory with saints (1592)

This altarpiece from San Fortunato depicts the Madonna and Child above and SS Callistus, Fortunatus and Cassian holding a model of Todi, flanked by SS Francis and Antony of Padua.  A contract that was discovered in 1998 identifies it as a work that Brother Fortunato di Francesco commissioned.  The cityscape gives pride of place to the church of San Fortunato and to the “new” Santa Maria della Consolazione below. 

Assumption of the Virgin (1595)

This altarpiece was painted for the Cappella dell’ Assunta, San Fortunato.  An inscription records that Sensini restored it in 1600.  The figure of the Franciscan donor, which was probably over-painted during this restoration, has been recovered.

St Charles Borromeo (1614)

This altarpiece, which is signed by Pietro Paolo Sensini and dated by inscription, came from San Fortunato.

St Fortunatus cures the Goth (early 17th century)

The Pinacoteca owns two versions of this work, which probably came from the public palaces of Todi, only one of which is displayed.  A third version, which was dated 1615 and came from San Fortunato, has been lost.  The miraculous cure of the Goth commander is shown on the right, and in the main scene the families of the children released as a result give thanks to St Fortunatus.

Bishop Napoleone Comitoli of Perugia (1628)

This portrait of Napoleone Comitoli, who was Bishop of Perugia from 1591 until his death in 1624, is from the church of San Giuseppe dei Falegnami.  The bishop was born near Todi, but the precise reason for the presence of this posthumous portrait in San Giuseppe is unclear.

Panels from the Chiesa della Misericordia (1628)

The priors of the the Chiesa della Misericordia commissioned this cycle of six panels from Bartolomeo Barbiani, but he only executed two (feeding the hungry and giving water to the thirsty).  Sensini seems to have inherited the commission, executing four scenes: visiting the imprisoned; clothing the naked; visiting the sick (which gives an admirable impression of the interior of a hospital) and giving hospitality to pilgrims.  These panels appeared in an inventory of 1872 of the possessions of the Congregazione della Carità.

Works in the Pinacoteca

The following are in the Pinacoteca:

Immaculate conception with St Apollinare (1585)

This altarpiece, which is one of the earliest of Sensini’s surviving works, was commissioned for the cemetery church at Vasciano and found its way to the Monastero di San Francesco, Todi.  Sensini restored the work in 1621, adding the circle of cherubs at this point.

St Appollonia (1594)

The Benedetti family arms appear in this panel, which is of unknown provenance.  St Appollonia of Alexandria had all her teeth pulled out before being burned alive in the reign of the Emperor Decius.  She is the patron saint of dentists, and is shown here holding an extracted tooth in forceps.

Figures of the Annunciation (late 16th century)

The arms of Sensini’s own family appear in these panels, which are of unknown provenance.  The date “1622” also appears at the bottom of the figure of the Virgin, but this was probably the date at which the two panels were combined in a single frame.

Descent from the Cross (1608)

This panel from [where?], which is signed and dated by inscription, is a copy of the famous panel (1569) of this subject by Federico Barocci in the Duomo, Perugia.

Madonna and Child with St Philip Benizi (1619)

This panel from [where?], which is dated by inscription, depicts a vision of the praying St Philip Benizi in which he sees the Madonna and Child in glory.

Deposition (17th century)

This panel from [where?] is a copy of the panel (1599) of this subject by Ferraù Fenzoni in the sacristy of the Duomo, Todi.

Works in the Tempio del Santissimo Crocifisso

The following works are in the Tempio del Santissimo Crocifisso:

St Charles Borromeo with SS Agnes and Apollonia (1614)


St Laurence with SS Apollonia and Lucy (17th century)


Works in Santa Maria in Camuccia

The following works are in Santa Maria in Camuccia:

Madonna and Child with saints (1617)

This damaged altarpiece in the 2nd chapel on the left, which depicts the Madonna and Child with SS Hilary (Ilario) and Charles Borromeo, came from San Carlo.  The Child greets St Hilary while the Madonna and St Charles contemplate a Cross with the Holy Nail at its centre and a skull beneath.

Miracle at San Domenico in Soriano (ca. 1616)

This altarpiece [by Andrea Polinari] in the 1st chapel on the left depicts a miracle that occurred in 1530 at the sanctuary of San Domenico at Soriano in Calabria, when the Virgin and SS Mary Magdalene and Catherine of Alexandria appeared to one of the brothers and gave him an image of St Dominic.  (The saint in the image is sometimes said to be St Hyacinth (San Giacinto)).  This latter figure, which was painted by Pietro Paolo Sensini substituted an earlier one by Palminio Alvi, which led to legal action against the patron, Piergeronimo Fabri in 1616. 

Works in SS Annunziata

The following works are in SS Annunziata:

Frescoes of the Sala di Pranzo (1580-1606)

These frescoes in the lunettes around this refectory in the monastery, depict figures of saints. with a Crucifixion with St Mary Magdalene (1588) at the centre of the left wall.

Annunciation and Nativity (1600)

These frescoes are in lunettes in the room adjoining the Sala di Pranzo.

St Blaise (1621)

This altarpiece in the church (on the altar on the right), which is dated by inscription, was cut down when the altar was rebuilt in the early 18th century remodelling of the church.

Other Works in Todi

Crucifixion (1590)

This altarpiece on the back wall of the apse of in San Fortunato depicts the Crucifixion with the Virgin and St John the Evangelist, set in front of a cityscape of Todi.

Madonna del Carmine with souls in purgatory (1610)

This altarpiece, which is dated by inscription, is to the right of the presbytery of San Filippo Benizi.

Portrait of Blessed John Vici of Stroncone  (1612)

This full-length portrait is in Santa Maria di Montesanto, on the back wall of the Cappella della Crocifissione, to the left of the altar.   It forms a pendant to a portrait (1612) of Blessed Antony Vici of Stroncone by Andrea Polinari.

St Charles Borromeo (1612)

The Compagni dei SS Ambrogio e Carlo commissioned this altarpiece for their altar in Santa Prassede, and left it behind when they moved to Sant’ Ilario in 1615.  The altar was destroyed in the remodelling of 1733.  The altarpiece, which is signed and dated by inscription, is now on the Altare del SS Crocifisso [where ???].

St Fortunatus (1624)

This altarpiece in the sacristy of the Duomo, which is dated by inscription, came from the demolished Cappella di San Martino.  It depicts St Fortunatus in half-length, with the Holy Spirit descending on him from above and an interesting cityscape of Todi below.

Scenes from the life of Jacopone da Todi (17th century)

These eight scenes are in two rooms on the first floor of Palazzo Pongelli- Benedettoni  that can be visited.


Madonna and Child with saints (late 16th century)

This altarpiece in the Museo dell’ Opera del Duomo, which is attributed to Pietro Paolo Sensini, depicts the Madonna and Child with SS Pius V and Peter Martyr.  It probably came from a Dominican church, perhaps San Domenico.  It probably dates to ca. 1588, when the cult of Pope Pius V (died 1572) revived after the translation of his relics to a new tomb in Santa Maria Maggiore, Rome.  The altarpiece was restored in 2007.

Madonna and Child enthroned with saints (17th century)

This altarpiece in San Giovenale (in the 3rd bay of the left aisle) is attributed to Pietro Paolo Sensini.  It depicts the Madonna and Child with SS Juvenal and Sabinus and two hooded penitents.

Read more: 
There are two entires for Pietro Paolo Sensini in: 
F. Todini (Ed.), “Pittura del Seicento in Umbria: Ferraù Fenzoni, Andrea Polinori and Bartolomeo Barbiani”, (1991) Todi: 
C. Ridolfi, “Pietro Paolo Sensini”, pp 238-40; and 
M. Castrichini, “Pietro Paolo Sensini: Repertorio delle Opere”, pp 241-70 
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