Key to Umbria

Portrait of Durante Alberti (17th century)

Accademia di San Luca 

Durante Alberti belonged to a family of artists from Borgo Sansepolcro.  He moved to Rome in 1572, and enjoyed considerable success there, rising to become the Director of the Accademia di San Luca in 1598.  According to his biographer, he was devoted to the Capuchins and painted a number of panels for their convents.  This is apparent from his surviving works in Umbria, many of which correspond to payments that he meticulously recorded in his diary, which were nearly all painted for Capuchin churches.


Madonna and Child with saints (1599)

The diary of Durante Alberti records two payments from the Capuchins of Sant’ Antonio Abate:
  1. one in 1596 for a signed panel of the Madonna and Child in glory with six saints, which has been lost; and

  2. a second in 1599.

This second payment has been associated with this panel from the church, which is now in the Pinacoteca Comunale.  It depicts the Madonna and Child with SS Jerome, Francis and Clare.

Città di Castello

Panels (16th century)


These two panels in the Museo del Duomo, which are of unknown provenance, are attributed (somewhat tentatively) to Durante Alberti.  They depict:

  1. the Visitation; and

  2. the raising of Lazarus.


Madonna and Child with saints and angels (1590)

The diary of Durante Alberti records that “Messer Cario” , a bread merchant and tax farmer, paid for this altarpiece for the Chiesa dei Cappuccini outside Norcia in 1590.  The panel, which is now in the Museo Civico e Diocesano, depicts the Madonna and Child in glory with two angels.  SS Clare, Francis, Louis of Toulouse and Bonaventura kneel below, in front of a cityscape of Norcia as seen from the convent.  The coat of arms at the bottom and the initials on the painting refer to the donor and the Angelucci family, formerly called Colangelucci. 


Circumcision of Christ (1575?)

This panel on the high altar of the Chiesa del Gesù was removed at an unknown date before 1860 and subsequently lost.  It was recently rediscovered in the parish church of Santa Maria in Case Bruciate, outside Perugia.  It was subsequently restored, and the results of a 19th century “restoration” were reversed as far as possible.  It was returned to the high altar in 2006.

The altarpiece depicts the ceremony of circumcision, with two prophets below:

  1. Jeremiah on the left; and

  2. Habakkuk on the right.

The inscription between the prophets reads “ANO IVBILEI MDLXXV”. 

There is some doubt about the date of the work and its author:

  1. Giovanni Francesco Morelli, writing in 1683, attributed it to “Durante dal Borgo”. 

  2. Baldassarre Orsini, writing in 1784, gave the same attribution, but noted that others attributed it to the Flemish artist Michele Desubleo (1602-76)

  3. Giovanna Sapori, writing in 1981, reported that the panel had been painted by Durante Alberti for the Jesuits on the occasion of the Jubilee of 1575 (when he would have been 19 years old and living in Rome).

  4. The guide written by three Barnabite fathers in 2008 attributed it to  Michele Desubleo.   (If this is correct, the painting must have been executed after 1630, when Desubleo arrived in Italy).

All four references are given below.


Works in San Severino

The diary of Durante Alberti records three payments in 1595 from the Capuchin friars of Sant’ Onofrio for an altarpiece.  They presumably brought it with them when they moved to San Severino in 1622.  In fact, two panels in the church are attributed to Durante Alberti:

  1. the panel in the left transept, which depicts the Madonna and Child in glory with SS Francis and Onuphrius and which is probably the work executed in 1595; and

  2. the panel on the altar in the friars’ choir, which depicts the Madonna and Child with SS Bonaventure and Antony of Padua.

Read more:

L. Barroero et al. (Eds), “Pittura del Seicento e del Settecento: Ricerche in Umbria 2”, (1980 ) Treviso

This contains illustrations and associated notes on the pictures at: Assisi [168]; and Spello [730-1].

L. Barroero et al. (Eds), “Pittura del Seicento: Ricerche in Umbria” (1989), Perugia

This describes the painting at Norcia [2].

For the altarpiece in Perugia:

  1. C. Corbetta  (Ed), A. Bertini and and A. Manzana, “La Chiesa del Gesu di Perugia: Storia e a Arte”, (2008 ) Perugia 

  2. G. Sapori, “Perugia 1565-75: Girolamo Danti”, Bollettino d' Arte, 11 (1981) 1-12

  3. B. Orsini, “Guida Al Forestiere Per l' Augusta Città di Perugia”, (1784) Perugia

  4. F. Morelli, “Brevi Notizie delle Pitture e Sculture che Adornano l' Augusta Città di Perugia”, (1683) Perugia

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Durante Alberti (1556–1623)  

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