Key to Umbria

Ugolino di Prete Ilario was called to Orvieto  from his native Siena in 1357 and is documented in the Duomo there until 1384.  He played an important part in training local artists, including Pietro di Puccio and the younger  Cola Petruccioli, Andrea di Giovanni and Francesco di Antonio.  He also played a role in civic affairs: he served as one of the Signori Sette (seven magistrates) in 1365, 1382 and 1384.

Duomo, Orvieto

Frescoes of Cappella del Corporale (1357-64)

The frescoes of the Cappella del Corporale were commissioned in 1356 from Giovanni di Buccio di Leonardello and Ugolino di Prete Ilario.  Giovanni di Buccio soon left the team to concentrate on the mosaics of the facade.   Ugolino di Prete Ilario continued the work with the assistance of a number of other local artists, including Petrucciolo di Marco, Domenico di Meo, Antonio di Andreuccio and Pietro di Puccio.  He signed one of the frescoes on the back wall as Ugolino, painter of Orvieto, and dated it very precisely to 8th June 1364, which was presumably the date of completion of the entire programme of decoration.   Many of the scenes have Latin explanatory inscriptions (1362) devised by “Ser Checco di Pietro”.

Unfortunately, the frescoes were poorly restored in the 19th century.  Some of the original sinopie were discovered during the restoration of 1975-8.  They were detached at that time and are now in the Museo dell' Opera del Duomo.

Scenes from the Passion

The frescoes on the back wall depict:

  1. the Crucifixion;

  2. the Last Supper; and

  3. the Resurrection. 

Miracle of Bolsena


                   Urban IV greats the Bishop of Orvieto         Urban IV shows the Sacro Corporale to the people

          at the bridge over the Rio Chiaro as he returns        of Orvieto from the loggia of Palazzo Papali

               from Bolsena with the Sacra Corporale              

The eight frescoes on the right wall of the altar bay depict scenes from the events surrounding the miracle of Bolsena.

Eucharistic scenes


                                 A priest drives the devil from a condemned                  A Jewish man burns his son,

                                  heretic by elevating the consecrated Host           who has eaten the consecrated Host.

                                          [Where in the entrance bay ??]                   In a later scene, the Virgin intervenes and                     

                                                                                                                       the boy is safely removed from the flames

                                                                                                                                (Left wall of the altar bay)

Many of the other frescoes in the chapel provide graphic details of the power of the consecrated Host and the unhappy fate of people who fail to venerated it.

Frescoes of the Tribune (1370-80)


                                                  Left wall                                                            Back wall      

This fresco cycle, which covers the three walls and the vaults of the tribune, was one of the most important in Italy at the time it was commissioned.  Ugolino di Prete Ilario led a team of local painters that included: Cola Petruccioli; Andrea di Giovanni; and Francesco di Antonio.

The cycles depicts of scenes from the life of the Virgin, including this one of the Circumcision of Christ on the back wall.

The narrative culminates  in the Assumption of the Virgin, at the top of the back wall, and the Coronation of the Virgin in the vault above. 

Mosaics on Facade of the Duomo

Ugolino di Prete Ilario was documented in relation to the following mosaics for the facade of the Duomo:

Birth of the Virgin (1365)

Ugolino di Prete Ilario designed this mosaic in the gable over the right door.  The resulting mosaic, which was executed by Giovanni di Buccio di Leonardello, was replaced by a copy in 1786.  The original (which has been heavily restored) is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Marriage of the Virgin (1612)

The original mosaic in the left upper cusp was executed in 1381-6 by Ugolino di Prete Ilario and Pietro di Puccio.  The present mosaic (illustrated here), which is based on a cartoon by Antonio Circignani, il Pomarancio, was restored in 1786.

Works in San Giovenale

The following frescoes in in San Giovenale are associated with Ugolino di Prete Ilario:

Assumption of the Virgin (14th century)

This faded fresco in the 3rd bay on the left is attributed to Ugolino di Prete Ilario.  It depicts the Madonna and Child enthroned  being carried to heaven by angels.

Annunciation and Nativity (14th century)

This damaged fresco under the aedicule on the right wall (to the right of the side entrance) is attributed variously to Ugolino di Prete Ilario  or Giovanni di Buccio di Leonardello

Read more:

C. Fratini, “Pittura e Miniatura ad Orvieto dal XII al XIV Secolo”, in

  1. G. della Fina and C. Fratini (Eds), “Storia di Orvieto: Medioevo”, (2007) Pisa, pp. 478-81

Return to Art inOrvieto.

Return to “Foreign” Painters in Umbria.


Ugolino di Prete Ilario (died after 1403)  

Umbria: Home   Cities   History   “Foreign” Painters in Umbria   Hagiography   Contact

Ugolino di Prete Ilario in: Orvieto