Birthplace: Siena, Italy
Location of death: Rome, Italy
Cause of death: unspecified
Religion: Roman Catholic
Race or Ethnicity: White
Occupation: Architect, Painter
Executive summary: Sienese architect, quadratura painter
Italian architect and painter of the Roman school, was born at Ancajano, in the diocese of Volterra, and passed his early life at Siena, where his father resided. While quite young Peruzzi went to Rome, and there studied architecture and painting; in the latter he was at first a follower of Perugino. The choir frescoes in Sant' Onofrio on the Janiculan Hill, usually attributed to Pinturicchio, are by his hand. One of the first works which brought renown to the young architect was the villa on the banks of the Tiber in Rome now known as the Farnesina, originally built for the Sienese Agostino Chigi, a wealthy banker. This villa, like all Peruzzi's works, is remarkable for its graceful design and the delicacy of its detail. It is best known for the frescoes painted there by Raphael and his pupils to illustrate the stories of Psyche and Galatea. One of the loggie has frescoes by Peruzzi's own hand -- the story of Medusa. On account of his success Peruzzi was appointed by Pope Leo X in 1520 architect to St. Peter's at a salary of 250 scudi; his design for its completion was not, however, carried out. During the sack of Rome in 1527 Peruzzi barely escaped with his life, on condition of his painting the portrait of Constable de Bourbon, who had been killed during the siege. From Rome he escaped to Siena, where he was made city architect, and designed fortifications for its defense, a great part of which still exist. Soon afterwards he returned to Rome, where he made designs for a palace for the Orsini family, and built the palaces Massimi and Vidoni, as well as others in the south of Italy. He died in 1536, and was buried by the side of Raphael in the Pantheon.
Peruzzi was an eager student of mathematics and was also a fair classical scholar. Like many of the great artists of his time, he was remarkable for the varied extent of his knowledge and skill. A most able architect, a fair painter and one working in quadratura, and a scientific engineer, he also practiced minor arts, such as stucco-work in relief, sgraffito, and the decorative painted arabesques which the influence of Raphael did so much to bring into use. His best existing works in fresco are in the Castel di Belcaro and the church of Fontegiusta in Siena. For Siena Cathedral he also designed a magnificent wooden organ-case, painted and gilt, rich with carved arabesques in friezes and pilasters; he also designed the high altar and the Cappella del Battista.
His chief pupil was the architect Serlio, who, in his work on architecture, gratefully acknowledges the great debt he owed to Peruzzi's instruction. The English National Gallery possesses an interesting drawing by his hand. The subject is the "Adoration of the Magi", and it is of special value, because the heads of the three kings are portraits of Michelangelo, Raphael, and Titian. The Uffizi and the library at Siena contain a number of Peruzzi's designs and drawings, many of which are now of priceless value, as they show ancient buildings which have been destroyed since the 16th century.
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