1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Fiorenzo di Lorenzo

FIORENZO DI LORENZO (c. 1440–1522), Italian painter, of the Umbrian school, lived and worked at Perugia, where most of his authentic works are still preserved in the Pinacoteca. There is probably no other Italian master of importance of whose life and work so little is known. In fact the whole edifice that modern scientific criticism has built around his name is based on a single signed and dated picture (1487) in the Pinacoteca of Perugia—a niche with lunette, two wings and predella—and on the documentary evidence that he was decemvir of that city in 1472, in which year he entered into a contract to paint an altarpiece for Santa Maria Nuova—the pentatych of the “Madonna and Saints” now in the Pinacoteca. Of his birth and death and pupilage nothing is known, and Vasari does not even mention Fiorenzo’s name, though he probably refers to him when he says that Cristofano, Perugino’s father, sent his son to be the shop drudge of a painter in Perugia, “who was not particularly distinguished in his calling, but held the art in great veneration and highly honoured the men who excelled therein.” Certain it is that the early works both of Perugino and of Pinturicchio show certain mannerisms which point towards Fiorenzo’s influence, if not to his direct teaching. The list of some fifty pictures which modern critics have ascribed to Fiorenzo includes works of such widely varied character that one can hardly be surprised to find great divergence of opinion as regards the masters under whom Fiorenzo is supposed to have studied. Pisanello, Verrocchio, Benozzo Gozzoli, Antonio Pollaiuolo, Benedetto Bonfigli, Mantegna, Squarcione, Filippo Lippi, Signorelli and Ghirlandajo have all been credited with this distinguished pupil, who was the most typical Umbrian painter that stands between the primitives and Perugino; but the probability is that he studied under Bonfigli and was indirectly influenced by Gozzoli. Fiorenzo’s authentic works are remarkable for their sense of space and for the expression of that peculiar clear, soft atmosphere which is so marked a feature in the work of Perugino. But Fiorenzo has an intensity of feeling and a power of expressing character which are far removed from the somewhat affected grace of Perugino. Of the forty-five pictures bearing Fiorenzo’s name in the Pinacoteca of Perugia, the eight charming St Bernardino panels are so different from his well-authenticated works, so Florentine in conception and movement, that the Perugian’s authorship is very questionable. On the other hand the beautiful “Nativity,” the “Adoration of the Magi,” and the “Adoration of the Shepherds” in the same gallery, may be accepted as the work of his hand, as also the fresco of SS. Romano and Rocco at the church of S. Francesco at Deruta. The London National Gallery, the Berlin and the Frankfort museums contain each a “Madonna and Child” ascribed to the master, but the attribution is in each case open to doubt.

See Jean Carlyle Graham, The Problem of Fiorenzo di Lorenzo (Perugia, 1903); Edward Hutton, The Cities of Umbria (London).  (P. G. K.)