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Nicolò Circignani was born at Pomarance, near Volterra and is known as il Pomarancio.  He shares this nickname with two artists who trained under him:

  1. his son Antonio Circignani; and

  2. Cristoforo Roncalli.

Nicolò Circignani is first documented in 1564, when he was living in Città della Pieve and enjoying the patronage of Ascanio della Corgna.  He signed a partnership agreement with Arrigo Fiammingo (Hendrik van den Broeck) in Perugia later that year.  He took over a commission that Arrigo Fiammingo secured in 1565 for an altarpiece in the Duomo, Orvieto (see below).  Both artists worked on the frescoes of the Santuario di Mongiovino at Panicale, near Lake Trasimeno.   His marriage took place in Città della Pieve in 1567.  He worked in Città di castello for a period in the 1570s, and was granted citizenship in 1577.

Nicolò Circignani spent the 1580s working mostly in Rome.  His last known work is in Cascia (see below).

His followers included Avanzino Nucci.


Ascension (1596)

This altarpiece in San Francesco, which is signed by Nicolò Circignani and dated by inscription, is the last known work by this artist.  It was originally in  a fine gilded wooden frame (1594) by Fiorenzo di Giuliano, and provided the backdrop to a gilded wooden ciborium that was also the work of Fiorenzo di Giuliano.  The ciborium remains on the high altar, but the altarpiece and its frame are now in the right transept.

Città di Castello

Nicolò Circignani received citizenship of Città di Castello in 1577.

Panels in San Francesco


           Martyrdom of St Stephen (1570)      Immaculate Virgin (1573)              Annunciation (1570)   

                    From 1st altar on right                  Documented (1728)                  From 3rd altar on right

                                                                                    in right transept

These three panels from San Francesco are all signed by Nicolò Circignani and dated by inscription.  They were all documented in the civic collection in 1878 and are now in the Pinacoteca Comunale.

The composition of the panel of the Immaculate Conception is derived from that of a panel (1540) by Giorgio Vasari from SS Apostoli, Florence, which is now in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.  The Immaculate Virgin is depicted triumphing over original sin.  Adam and Eve are bound to the Tree of Knowledge below and flanked by figures from the Old Testament.

Massacre of the Innocents (1570-1)

Surviving documents record that Pompeo Tiberti commissioned this altarpiece from Nicolò Circignani in 1570 for his chapel in Sant’ Agostino, and that its price was agreed after its completion in the following year.   The local art historian Giacomo Mancini reported that, during an apostolic visit in 1571, Monsignor Paolo delle Rovere had tried unsuccessfully to prevent its exposure in the church because of the “obscene nudity of some of the figures”.  It survived the earthquake of 1789 and the depredations of French soldiers in 1798, and was still in place in 1807, when the friars sold it to Mancini himself.  It is now in the Galleria Nazionale d’ Arte Antica, Palazzo Barberini, Rome, and has recently been restored.

Frescoes of Palazzo Vitelli a Porta Sant' Egido (1572-4)

In 1571, Paolo Vitelli commissioned the Bolognese artist Prospero Fontana to lead a team of artists on the frescoes of Palazzo Vitelli a Porta Sant' Egidio, which were to be completed in time for a visit by Ottavio Farnese, Duke of Parma.  Although mostly the work of Fontana himself, some can be attributed to younger members of his team, including Nicolò Circignani.

Madonna and Child with Saints (1577)

This altarpiece on the right wall of the church of the Abbazia di San Salvatore di Monte Corona, which is dated by inscription, is attributed to Nicolò Circignani.   It probably came from the parish church of Romeggio, which belonged to the abbey.  It depicts the Madonna and Child, seated on a cloud, with St Peter and a papal saint to the sides.

Transfiguration with Saints (1578)

This altarpiece in Santa Maria della Reggia, Umbertide, which is signed by Nicolò Circignani and dated by inscription, came from San Salvatore di Monte Corona.   The transfigured Christ is depicted with Moses and Elijah, while SS Peter, James and John below awake to see the miracle.  Two putti below hold the Eucharist.  Two of the four saints below can be identified:
  1. St Benedict, who reads from the Rule that he devised for his Order; and

  2. St Romuald, who holds a model of the complex on Monte Corona.

Madonna and Child with saints (1577)

This altarpiece from San Francesco Umbertide, which is signed by Nicolò Circignani and dated by inscription, was commissioned by the notary Cristoforo Martinelli.  It depicts the Madonna and Child in glory with SS Andrew, Blaise, Francis and Sebastian.  It is now in the Museo di Santa Croce, Umbertide.

Annunciation (ca. 1595)

This altarpiece by Nicolò Circignani in the Cappella Guazzini in the Duomo was stolen in 1809 and has never been recovered.

Conversion of St Paul (16th century)

According to Giacomo Mancini (writing in 1832), the walls of the Cappella di San Paolo in the Duomo were originally covered with frescoes by Nicolò Circignani depicting scenes from the life of St Paul.  However, following the restoration of the chapel by the Longini family, only one remained visible: the conversion of St Paul, on the altar wall.  This fresco now forms the chapel’s altarpiece.

[Have some of the other frescoes in this cycle been recovered?]


Veronica (1558)

This altarpiece to the left of the presbytery of San Bartolomeo di Marano is signed by Nicolò Circignani, il Pomarancio and dated by inscription.

Adoration of the Magi (1567)

This fresco, which is attributed to Nicolò Circignani, is on the right wall of the nuns’ choir in the Monastero di Sant’ Anna.  It is dated by an inscription that also records the name of the donor, Bishop Bufalini, who made the donation for his niece.  This was almost certainly Ventura Bufalini, who was Bishop of Massa in the decade from 1560: his niece Vitoria was a nun at Sant' Anna and the family were related to the de' Conti family.


Christ healing a Cripple (1565-6)

In 1561, the Opera del Duomo of Orvieto began negotiations with Arrigo Fiammingo (Hendrik van den Broeck), in an attempt to  secure his services in relation to the programme for the decoration of a series of new altars in the nave (see the page on the 16th century remodelling of the Duomo).  In 1565, he finally ruled out the possibility of working in Orvieto.  Instead, he recommended his associate Nicolò Circignani for the frescoes of one of the chapels in question, and he offered to paint its altarpiece in Rome. 

Nicolò Circignani was duly commissioned to execute the frescoes of the Cappella di San Nicolò, (the 3rd on the left).  He subsequently also painted its altarpiece (1566), which depicted Christ healing a Cripple.  The chapels were destroyed in ca. 1890: the altarpieces, including this one by Nicolò Circignani, are now in the Museo dell’ Opera del Duomo


Frescoes (1568)


The frescoes in the cupola of the ex-church of the Maestà delle Volte are signed by Nicolò Circignani and dated by inscription.  The main fields depict scenes from the Book of Genesis, and include this one of the creation of Eve.  The commission was part of the renovation of the church commissioned by Cardinal Fulvio della Corgna.


Scenes from the life of St Laurence (1566-77)

These six panels were commissioned to form a frieze under the organ in San Lorenzo.  One of them, which depicts the martyrdom of St Laurence, is signed by Nicolò Circignani and dated by inscription.  They are now in the sacristy of the church.

Read more: 

C. Galassi, “Niccolò Circignani il Pomarancio: Prattico e Spedito Pittore", (2007) Città di Castello

G. Sapori, “Artisti e Commitenti sul Lago Trasimeno", Paragone 33:393 (1982) 27-61

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Nicolò Circignani, il Pomarancio (died ca. 1596)

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