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Raffaellino was born in Colle, Borgo Sansepolcro.  Fr. Ludovico da Pietralunga, in his guide (ca. 1575) to San Francesco, Assisi, mentions that Raffaellino had trained under Giovanni di Pietro, lo Spagna.  Fr Ludovico was in a position to know this: he was close to Dono Doni (see below), who sometimes worked with Raffaellino, and who had also trained under lo Spagna.

Raffaellino is documented in Rome in 1520, immediately after the death of Raphael, when he was working under Giulio Romano in the Sala di Costantino of the Vatican Palace.  When Giulio left Rome in 1524, Raffaellino returned to Borgo Sansepolcro.

Giorgio Vasari records that the young Cristofano Gherardi, il Doceno trained under Raffaellino in 1524.  Vasari later refers to both of these younger artists as “friends and pupils”.  He notes that, when Rosso il Fiorentino fled from Rome after the sack of 1527 and took refuge in Borgo Sansepolcro, Raffaellino transferred a commission to him, “so that he might leave some example of his handiwork in that place”.    

Although based in Borgo Sansepolcro, Raffaellino travelled extensively, securing commissions throughout Umbria, Tuscany and the Marches.


St Rufinus (1556)

This damaged fresco of the supine St Rufinus on  back of a Roman sarcophagus is associated with a payment made to “maestro Rafaello” (almost certainly Raffaellino del Colle) in 1556.  At this time, the sarcophagus still contained the relics of St Rufinus in the crypt of San Rufino.  The relics were translated to a new sarcophagus in 1586, at which point the empty Roman sarcophagus was moved to its present location, in the crypt of Bishop Ugone’s  church.

Baptism of Christ (1556)

These panels are probably associated with the above payment made to “maestro Rafaello” (almost certainly Raffaellino del Colle) in 1556.  They are on what seem to have been hinged doors that probably belonged to a structure in the baptistery of San Rufino.  They are now in the Museo Diocesano.

Volta Pinta (1556)

The papal governor Marcello Tuti commissioned the frescoes in what was originally a thoroughfare under the Palazzo del Governatore.  A document records the payment in 1556 to the artist, “Magister Raphael pictor”.  This is almost certainly Raffaellino del Colle, an assumption that was supported on stylistic grounds when the frescoes were restored in 2004-8.

These so-called grottesche are in the style of Raphael’s decoration of the loggia of the Vatican Palace.  These in turn were inspired by the frescoes of the Emperor Nero’s so-called Domus Aurea, which had been rediscovered in Rome in the late 15th century.   They include an interesting representation of the Roman temple of Assis.

All of the allegorical scenes include the arms of (a knotted stick), while the arms of Pope Paul IV appear at the centre (illustrated here). 

Città di Castello

Works in the Pinacoteca Comunale

The following panels that are attributed to Raffaellino del Colle are now in the Pinacoteca Comunale:

Annunciation (ca. 1528)

This panel from Santa Maria delle Grazie has long been attributed to Raffaellino del Colle.  A record of it from 1728 asserts that it came from the Altare dell’ Annunciazione (the 3rd on the left), which Antonio Sellari had financed in 1528.  He frequently served in the militia of the Vitelli family, and the chapel apparently contained both the Sellari and Vitelli arms.

The main panel was transferred to the gallery in 1912.  Three predella panels also here, each of which depicts three saints, probably belonged to this altarpiece.

Deposition (ca. 1552)

This panel from Santa Maria delle Grazie, which has long been attributed to Raffaellino del Colle, seems to have belonged to an altar that Bartolomeo Albizini financed in 1552.  If this is correct, Raffaellino painted it soon after he returned from a period in Florence.  It is very similar to a panel by Francesco Salviati in Santa Croce, Florence: the relative chronology of the two works is not known.

Agostino Tofanelli, the Director of the Musei Capitolini, Rome attempted to confiscate the altarpiece 1813, but (as Cristina Galassi - referenced below -has shown) the local authorities were able to resist because it was still in use in the church.  (The relevant research by Christina Galassi is referenced below).

The panel was transferred to the gallery in 1912. A number of small panels that are also here (six depicting angels holding the instruments of the Passion and five depicting scenes from the Passion) were recently recognised as having come from this altarpiece, and are now exhibited beside it. 

Annunciation (ca. 1559) 

This altarpiece from San Domenico, which is attributed to Raffaellino del Colle, was on the Altare dell’ Annunciazione (the 3rd on the left), which Antonio Libelli financed in 1559.

Assumption of the Virgin (1560)

This altarpiece from the Cappella dell’ Assunzione (the 4th on the right) in San Francesco has long been attributed to Raffaellino del Colle.  It seems to have been commissioned by Antonio Bartolomeo Albizini, and the donor portrait at the lower right is probably his. 

Presentation of the Virgin (ca. 1560)

This panel from Santa Maria delle Grazie, which is attributed to Raffaellino del Colle, was in the altar under the organ, to the side of the high altar, which belonged to the Bruni family.  It was apparently commissioned originally by the Uccellari family.  The Servites tried to sell the panel in 1823, but this was forbidden by the Commune.  It was transferred to the gallery in 1912.

Madonna and Child with Saints (ca. 1530)

This altarpiece on the high altar of San Michele Arcangelo, which is attributed to Raffaellino del Colle, depicts the Madonna and Child with SS Sebastian and Michael.  Giulio Vitelli gave this church to Fra. Sebastiano Sellari in 1527.  The panel probably dates to the period between this donation and the death of Giulio Vitelli in 1530.


Works in San Pietro

The frescoes (1540) in the Cappella di San Benedetto (the 5th bay on the right) of the church of the Abbazia di San Pietro and the contemporary altarpiece are attributed to Raffaellino del Colle.  The work corresponds to documented payments made in 1539 to “Rafaelle pintore e compangni”.  The work was commissioned by the Nuti family, which owned the chapel.

  1. The frescoes depict:

  2. St Benedict in glory with other saints, in the upper register;

  3. St Benedict receives St Placidus into his monastery, on the lower left; and

  4. St Benedict receives St Maurus into his monastery, on the lower right.

  5. The altarpiece depicts the Adoration of the Magi.

Madonna with Child and Angels (1546)

This fresco, which forms the altarpiece in the 4th chapel on the left of San Domenico, is attributed to Raffaellino del Colle and [dated by inscription ??]


Frescoes in Rocca Paolina (1543-4)

Giorgio Vasari reports that Lattanzio Pagani began the decoration of the newly built Rocca PaolinaCristofano Gherardi, il Doceno (who was a close associate of Vasari) “not only assisted ... Lattanzio, but afterwards executed with his own hand the greater part of the best works that are painted in the apartments of that fortress, in which there also worked Raffaellino del Colle  and Adone Doni of Assisi, an able and well-practised painter .... Tommaso [Bernabei, il] Papacello also worked there ...”

This is the only surviving record of the commissioning of the frescoes of Rocca Paolina.  Paul III had built the fortress after his subjugation of the rebellious Perugians in 1540, so it is unsurprising that the team included no Perugian artists: indeed, apart from Dono Doni, all the artists came from outside Umbria.  They were to spearhead the introduction of Mannerist art to the city of Perugino.  Unfortunately, all of their work here was lost when the fortress was demolished in 1860.

Vasari is explicit the work had been commissioned by “Messer Tiberio Crispo, who was governor and castellan at that time”. A number of considerations suggest that the time in question was 1543-4:

  1. Serafino Siepi, who described the surviving and frescoes in his guide of 1822, says that those in the chapel (which he attributed to Dono Doni) were dated by inscription to 1543;

  2. Giorgo Vasari says that he called Cristofano Gherardi from Perugia to Rome in 1543, where he stayed for “many months”;

  3. Raffaellino del Colle is documented in Perugia in June 1544;

  4. Tiberio Crispo became a cardinal in December 1544, after which the title “Messer” would have been inappropriate; and

  5. Giorgio Vasari called Cristofano Gherardi and Raffaellino del Colle (whom he describes as his “friends and pupils”) to Naples in 1545, albeit that Cristofano was too ill to respond.

If this is correct, Vasari’s reference to Tiberio Crispo as “governor and castellan” was either incorrect or perhaps was a reference to Tiberio Crispo’s  position at Castel Sant’ Angelo, Rome in 1542-5.  He energetically promoted the decoration of the Roman fortress during his tenure, and might also have had responsibilities at Rocca Paolina before his appointment as Cardinal Legate of Perugia (1545-8). 

Holy Family with St John the Baptist (1560)

This damaged altarpiece was recorded in the 18th century in the Cappella di Santa Lucia, Sant’ Agostino, which belonged to Nicolò Febo degli Scotti, with an attribution to Raffaellino del Colle.  The predella, which has since disappeared, apparently bore the date 1560.  The main panel passed to the Accademia di Belle Arti and is now in the Galleria Nazionale.  

The altarpiece depicts the Madonna and Child enthroned with SS John the Baptist and Joseph, set in a landscape.  St Joseph plays with the baby Jesus, and they both hold the flowering staff that is his traditional attribute of St Joseph.  St John the Baptist seems to be reminding the Virgin of the baby’s fate, as two baby angels hold a crown above her head.

Madonna and Child with Saints (1563)

This documented altarpiece by Raffaellino del Colle on the altar of the Oratorio di Sant’ Agostino depicts
  1. the Madonna and Child with SS James and Philip, above; and

  2. SS Dominic, Augustine and Francis, below.

Read more:

  1. M.Droghini, “Raffaellino del Colle”, (2005) Sant’ Angelo in Vado

The attempted requisition of the Deposition from Santa Marie delle Grazie, Città di Castello  is discussed (on p. 110 and note 67, p. 124) in:

  1. C. Galassi, “Il Tesoro Perduto: le Requisizioni Napoleoniche a Perugia e la Fortuna della Scuola Umbra in Francia tra 1797 e 1815”, (2004) Perugia

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Raffaellino del Colle (1490–1556)  

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