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The Deposition of the Cross

Luca Signorelli and the Deposition of the Cross


We propose from the Degree Thesis of Professor Ricci Vitiani Valentina on " THE COMMITTEE OF LUCA SIGNORELLI IN UMBRIA:  NEW INVESTIGATIONS AND RESEARCH " , a summary of the initial setting that frames the presence and activity of the painter in our areas and we report in full the section on our" Deposition of the Cross ".  

The section with the explanatory documents and the bibliography used is reproduced here in its entirety.

The complete degree thesis can be consulted in this section (under construction).

Luca Signorelli - La deposizione dalla C

Photo by Fabio Mariotti: The Deposition of the Cross by Luca Signorelli

(edited by Valentina Ricci Vitiani)




Luca Signorelli's experience in Florence suffered an abrupt interruption in 1492, with the death of the Magnifico. Moving away from the Tuscan capital, the painter will find himself busy in the suburbs, but always in a receptive and open environment and, moreover, historically in constant contact with the most advanced Medici court to which he had often shown loyalty and offered his help. 

Luca Signorelli's artistic activity in the Upper Tiber Valley was remarkable: the sources attest to the presence of numerous altarpieces licensed by the Cortonese, but also the private buildings housed the artist's works. In the Upper Tiber Valley the painter's production was concentrated in particular in Città di Castello, of which the artist in 1488 became an honorary citizen.  In Città di Castello the copious activity of the Cortonese was therefore linked to the relations with the illustrious Vitelli family, with whom the painter played the role of true court artist. 

In the city the painter was already active starting from 1474,  even if most of the works can be dated between 1493 and 1498. Subsequently, when the pictorial geography of the artist was reduced to the peripheral environments of the Cortona area, his works reached Morra, Montone, Umbertide. 

Perhaps the fame of the painter who worked in Montone gave the artist the allocation of the Deposition from the Cross  by the Confraternity of S. Croce di Fratta, today's Umbertide: various considerations lead to a similar reflection, including the geographical proximity between the two centers and the chronological one of the execution of the two altarpieces.

For Umbertide 's table, the investigation contributed effectively to clarify aspects that in the past, due to an incorrect interpretation of the known documents, have been misunderstood. In particular, it was possible to trace a new documentary source in the State Archives of Perugia, the first in chronological order concerning the project of the clients to entrust the execution of the panel to the Cortonese. It is a notarial deed stipulated on July 8, 1515 by the same Confraternity which contains the appointment of the prosecutors Orsino di Giovanni and Giacomo di Arcangelo, in charge of reaching agreements and obligations with master Luca, painter of Cortona and receiving promises from him " pro pingendo per ipsum unam tabulam sive cunam “, the document preceding the deed of assignment of the painting, unfortunately not yet found. The Perugian document was precious in correcting certain inaccurate information that in the past had been wanted to be read in some notarial papers of the time preserved in the Municipal Archives of Umbertide and known since the nineteenth century due to the transcription made by Gualandi. On the basis of incorrect interpretations of much of the material that has come to light, scholars have assumed for the Deposition the existence of a coping made by Luca Signorelli at the end of the large panel. In truth this part of the painting, theoretically a Pietà, is not documented, since the terms contained in the documents and which should have referred to this, have been corrected in their incorrect transcription and interpretation.  IS  It was also interesting to dwell on the references of the  Umbertidese table to the local literature of the time, in particular with regard to the texts of the sacred representations set up by the disciplines of the Confraternity of Santa Croce centered on the theme of the Passion: it is above all with a text dating back to 1496 that the excited and theatrical Deposition from the Cross shows significant adherence in several details.  

La Deposizione della Croce
Appendice Documentaria





Valentina Ricci Vitiani


Deposition from the cross 



Umbertide, Museum of Santa Croce, 

Oil on board, cm. 198 x 147,

main table;

17.5 x 184 cm, predella

Signed and dated on the predella: LVCAS SIGNORELLVS 


Inscription on the cross: INRI

Provenance: Umbertide, church of Santa Croce.  


The episode in the foreground in the altarpiece is that of the Deposition from the Cross of the body of Christ: two men, on two stairs, carefully lower Him from the Wood; at the foot is the unconscious Virgin, the body dropped on the knees of the pious woman. They assist  to episode la  Magdalene, holding out her hand to  collect the blood that still flows from the dead body of Christ, Mary of Cleopes and Salome; the female character in the foreground on the left, dressed in precious robes, was identified by Daniel Estivill with a symbolic figure "which could represent the Holy Church, in an attitude of contemplation before the mystery of the passion of the Son of God made man": for the scholar, the colors of her garments could allude to specific virtues, white to the purity of faith, red to charity, green to hope, virtues that "define the ideal of the life of the Church", while the character's halo it would indicate the note of holiness.  In reality, such an interpretation does not seem too convincing; more likely the hypothesis that it could be St. Helena, mother of the Emperor Constantine, to whom we owe the discovery of the relic of the Holy Cross. In the group under the Cross there are also Cassius and St. John the Evangelist. Behind the main scene, in the landscape in the background, the episodes are depicted  they precede and follow the Deposition: on the left the three crosses of Christ and the two thieves, on the right the stiffened body of the Savior is carried inside the tomb. The painter's signature can be seen in the small pillar that delimits the panel on the right; but the cryptography that appears on the sleeve of the female character on the left of the table is also interesting: one can in fact decipher a date, 1516, and some letters, certainly an L and a V.

The predella, divided into three parts, contains five different stories: The defeat of Maxentius with the army of Constantine chasing the enemy; The invention of the Cross in the presence of the Empress Helen and the bishop of Jerusalem Maccarius,  The miracle of the young man resurrected from contact with Wood and, more to the right, S. Elena crossing the river with the retinue of her ladies; The entry of the relic into Jerusalem.

The colors are bright, metallic,  the table is full of characters, tragedians with excited movements, whose  gestures  they produce a pressing and nervous rhythm: each expression is exasperated as in the representation of a drama on stage.

The table is located behind the main altar of the church of Santa Croce in Umbertide (PG), now used as a museum. 

The Central Archives of Rome preserves some documents dating back to the last years of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the following century that testify to the will and  the attempts by the Congregation of Charity of Rome, at the time owner of the Deposition, to sell the painting: it is the correspondence of the Prefect of Perugia, the National Gallery of Rome, the Ministry of Education in an attempt to prevent the Congregation from l alienation of the table, saved  from the legislation of the time after having already risked migration in the period of the French requisitions. 

Until 1974 the painting therefore remained in its original location, to then be transported to the meeting room of the Civil Hospital of Umbertide, where it remained there for nine years in precarious conditions of conservation, until, in April 1983, it was sent to the Institute of Restoration of Rome. At the restoration,  carried out after a long time, namely in the years 1993-1996, followed by the museumization of the table, placed again in its original location behind the main altar of the Church of Santa Croce.

The preparatory drawing of the figure of Christ is kept in the Lugt collection in Paris (2538).

The chronology of the table is certain: from the documents that I will later analyze in the study of the genesis of the work and its commission, we know that the table was completed around the middle of 1516.


As can be seen from various documents, the panel was commissioned to Luca Signorelli by the Confraternity of Santa Croce di Fratta (ancient name of Umbertide), probably born between the end of the 13th and the beginning of the 14th century; the origin of the congregation is to be traced back to the spread, in the Perugian territory, of the related disciplinary movement  to the proselytism of Raniero Fasani, a pious layman who in 1260 preached the expiation of sins through the practice of flagellation as a re-enactment of the Passion of Christ. It is probable that the Confraternity of S. Croce originated from one of these  groups of flagellants, whose existence in Fratta is documented since the beginning of the fourteenth century with a privilege granted by Pietro di Rosso Gabrielli in 1337, in which there is talk of an indulgence of forty days for all those who had helped through alms the 'completion of the works for the construction of a hospital, run by the congregation itself. The Confraternity owned in Fratta and in the surrounding territories of various immovable structures, of a church and of the hospital mentioned above. The institution was regulated by a Statute  that  within certain limits it could be modified by the confreres if there had been a reason; the oldest copy of the Statute of the Confraternity that has come down to us dates back to 1567 and contains the regulation of all those practices to which the institute was dedicated. In addition to being a strong point of reference for the spirituality of the time,  in the sixteenth century the brotherhood certainly had to represent a political, economic and social center of considerable importance. From the Statute we know what were the main tasks performed by this: the company took care of the hospital, welcoming the poor, distributing alms, providing gifts to girls from less well-off families and burying the dead when the latter could not provide for the transport of the deceased. 

Some news about the brotherhood and its history are given to us by Francesco Mavarelli in his  Historical news and praise from the company of disciplines of Santa Maria Nuova and of Santa Croce in the Land of Fratta (Umbertide). From his studies we learn that the first name adopted by the congregation was that of S. Maria Nuova, from the small church where the brothers gathered to devote themselves to religious activities and the recitation of lauds. The church, built around the middle of the 13th century in the lower village of Fratta, was initially officiated by Augustinian monks; the position was compliant  to the charitable activity of the order, always ready to offer his availability to travelers who, caught by the night, were forced to stay out of the city. However the relations between the Disciplinati of our Confraternity and the monks soon had to loosen, if already from 1341 the church was officiated by ecclesiastics of various religious orders or directly by the chaplain of the company; from the 16th century onwards, the carrying out of the sacred rites belonged to the friars of the adjacent Franciscan community and later to a chaplain compensated with 30 scudi who also had the task of teaching the young boys of the town.                                                

As early as 1338 the name of Santa Croce appears: in that year an indulgence of 40 days was granted to those who had visited the church and the hospital during certain days, including that of the dedication to Santa Croce: in a brief issued by the bishop of Gubbio the company is indicated as the Fraternity of the Disciplinati of S. Maria Nova and S. Croce.

Canon Guerrini and Professor Lupattelli affirm that the Confraternity officially assumed the name of Compagnia di S. Croce in 1566, the year in which it joined the company of S. Girolamo della Carità in Rome.

In the period from 1798 to 1814, i.e. in the years of the French occupation, the company will change its name to that of Compagnia del Sacramento in S. Croce  to avoid deletion.

From the analysis of the documents it is clear that the original church in which the brothers gathered must have measured about one third of the current one, equipped with a portico renovated in the year 1536 and demolished in 1556, when there was a first extension, for the which it was necessary to appropriate a wall belonging to the Franciscans. In 1606 there was a second extension, to carry out which permission was asked by the Confraternity to occupy the land of the Friars' lawn, the current Piazza San Francesco. The last works between the years 1635-1647: the building will take its present form.


Of the relationships that existed between the painter and his clients we have in this case an interesting documentation, mostly contained in an important register of the sixteenth century in which the Confraternity noted all the  income and expenses made in the period that interests us. Also refer to the Confraternity, to Luca Signorelli and to the table of the Deposition by Umbertide, some documents preserved in the State Archives of Perugia and in the Notarial Archives of Umbertide, some of which have remained unknown until now. In Perugia there is a previously unpublished act, drawn up by Berardino di Nicola di Costanzo di Fratta, with which the Confraternity elects Ursino di ser Giovanni and Iacopo Arcangeli procuratori "ad pasciendum et patos faciendum et obligationes et ad promittendum nomine dicte fraternitatis, obligandum et promissiones recipiendum to prefate magisterium Luca pro pingendo per ipsum unam tabulam sive cunam ad predictum promissionis instrumentum vel instrumenta locationis ad pingendum  conferendum, celebrandum, cum pleno et sufficient mandate ... “.

This is the first document drawn up for the Confraternity that mentions the panel, and the name of the painter who would soon start the work appears: it is July 8, 1515. The notarial deed, as well as for its importance of its content, confirms the correction of old transcriptions of documents already known but published according to a paleographic interpretation not too correct in some significant points of the text, interpretations which, we will see later, have contributed up to now to feed hypotheses for the which in fact documentary evidence is instead non-existent, or at least unknown: all this has been verified through a more correct transcription of clearly legible terms in the original Perugian text and which also recur in some subsequent documents, preserved in the Notarial Archives of Umbertide,  below.  Unfortunately it was not possible to trace the deed  containing the agreement between the two parties regarding the realization of the table. However, we have the aforementioned series of records contained in the company's accounts, which informs us of the relationship between the painter and his clients.  From the documents we know that in the years in which Signorelli is called to create the panel, the depositary of the Confraternity was the Censorium of Ser Giovanni: his is the task of noting the records of the payments made by the company to the painter. The first note found in the aforementioned Book of income and expenses of the Confraternity of S. Croce, containing the payments made to the Cortonese, refers to the expenses incurred to pay the notary who signed the contract; in fact, the Censorium of Ser John writes:

- “Item, to the notary who made the contract of the table …… fio 0-4-0. "

From the registration we know that the notary who drew up the commission of the table, whose identity is unfortunately unknown, was paid with four baiocchi.

Further below we read:

- “Item, I lent to the Fraternita doi Ducati which I paid to the pentor  .  .  Fior. 3-36-0 ": 

not having cash in hand, the Confraternity borrowed two ducats from the depositary Censorio di ser  John; it is the first deposit received by Luca Signorelli.

So in the register we find written:

- “To Renzo who is cum Berardino per mandallo cum a letter to Mastro Luca  .  Fio. 0-24-0 ":

for the first time the name of Luca appears among the recordings of the book; in all probability he was in Cortona, considering the consistency of the expense made by the Confraternity to send to the painter  the messenger with the letter.

Subsequent registrations  referable to Luca Signorelli and to  table inform:

- “Item for them…. to tan them for the pentor   .  .  Fio. 0-7-0 "

  (unfortunately the missing term is indecipherable);

- “Item in una soma de lengnie for the pentor  .  .  Fio 0-2-6 ";

- “Straw items and tallow candles for the pentor  .  .  Fio.0-4-0 ";

Wood, straw and sevo candles are bought for the painter who was working on the table; probably Luca Signorelli is in Umbertide;

- “To mastro Luca pentore one florins       Fior.1-0-0 ";

it is obviously a deposit paid to the Cortonese;

  - “items for the boards for the capsa for the table     Flower. 1-0-0 ";

it is the implementation of the original frame of the table.

The term capsa, previously transcribed as hood, with an incomprehensible meaning, is instead to be understood, according to a more correct transcription, as the containment apparatus of the painting.

At this point there are two notarial deeds drawn up by two different notaries from Fratta, Berardino di Nicola di Costanzo and Marino Spunta: in their documents we read that the Confraternity, in need of money, sells some parts of  land owned by him: June 26, 1516  it is sold to Bartolomeo  Christians  “Eminas duas […] of a tenimento terre posite in tenimento dicti castri Fratte in vocabulo Ranco Giorgio […] et plus et minus […] ut ascendant ad valorem florenorum quadraginta“; on the 26th day of the following month, the Confraternity sells an additional piece of land to Bartolomeo himself,  “In the curia castri Montonis in Faldo vocabulo of the value this time of XX florins, money  that “idem Ursinus prior habuit in cash with recourse magistro Luce de Cortonio pictori pro pictura tabule picte in altars Sante Crucis, videlicet pro rata. "  

So it is the following annotation  of the aforementioned Book of entries and exits:  

  - “To mastro Luca on the 29th of July in 1516 by reason of the table  Fio. 70-0-0. "

It is the registration of a new payment to Luca Signorelli, very substantial:  the table must now have been finished.

In the register follow the following notes:

- “Item for tip to the boys of mastro Luca  .  .  . Flor. 0-72-0 ";

after paying the painter, the boys are also offered their tip;

  - “Item to Mastro Goro who put on the table  .  .  Flower. 0-67-0. “;

more or less at the end of July 1516, the panel is placed in the location for which it was intended,  that is, behind the main altar of the church.

- “To mastro Luca and for him to Pietro Paolo di Renzo  .  .  Flower. 1-0-0. ".

We are now the following year, 1517, and the payments to the painter continue:

- “To mastro Lucha for the table… fio. 8-0-0 ".

Other expenses then follow:

- “In gold and glue for piety  .  .  Flower. 0-35-6 ";

It is the registration relating to the expense made by the Confraternity for the purchase of material to be used in the gilding of the original frame.

From 1527 is a deed drawn up by the notary Marino Spunta di Fratta, with which the Confraternity returns thirty florins to Meo - Bartolomeo - Cristiani, "quos idem Meus mutuaverat gratia et amore dicte fraternitati et hominibus ipsius pro solvendo mercedem his magister Luce de Cortonio pictori pro pictura quam fecerat de tabula seu cuna capelle et fraternitatis Sancte Crucis in ecclesia predicta existente in maiori altars “. A different reading of the expression "seu cuna", erroneously transcribed "seu top", has contributed, as we shall see, to believe the hypothesis that the painter had created for the Confraternity, in addition to the panel with the Deposition, also a  sort of its completion, a lunette with the Pietà; in reality, however, the discovery of the document of Perugia and above all  the new paleographic investigation made it possible to correct the transcriptions of the documents relating to the table in some points, reaching conclusions contrary to those traditionally  sustained: the expression "seu cuna"  it appears already in the first document mentioned, where the two terms are really clearly legible, and refers to the entire altarpiece.   

The panel was placed on the wall of the main altar of the original church of Santa Croce. The elaborate intaglio work that still frames the table today was made in 1612, well suited to the sumptuous and rich taste of that era: it is the work of Giampietro Zuccari of S. Angelo in Vado, as the archival sources recall.

As I mentioned, an incorrect interpretation of the sources gave rise to the idea that in addition to the realization of the table with the Deposition, a lunette with a Pietà was also created by Signorelli  to be placed on the table. The first to support such a hypothesis was Guardabassi, who in his manuscript preserved in the Augusta Library in Perugia, speaking of the panel, hypothesizes its completion, consisting precisely in a lunette with the Pietà. The scholar derives the idea from the shape of the painting, almost square, and above all from that annotation contained in the mentioned Book of income and expenses, in which the expenditure of 35 soldi and 6 denari for gold and glue is noted " for the Pietà “. Girolamo Mancini was of the same opinion. The opinion of the canon Antonio Guerrini disagrees, and in his  History of the land of Fratta writes: “But which Pietà? if it was restored in 1517, when in 1616 our distinguished artists Flori and Sermigni replaced in that altar a stone frame the grandiose exhibition of carved and gilded wood, which still exists today, they would certainly have in their wisdom, in their love for religiously respected (however reduced) art that interesting part of our classic painting! "  The existence of the hypothetical completion lunette is also spoken of in the most recent studies, of a local nature, carried out on ours, to which I have now often referred.  The new interpretation and transcription of the archival sources and the set of information derived from the new documents found, however, leads us to exclude the existence of the hypothetical coping, or at least to ascertain that in reality there is no reference to this in the sources mentioned. The use of the term Pietà  refers to the content of the table, which depicts the Crucifixion of Christ and the robbers, the Deposition, the Lamentation or Pietà and the Transport of Christ's body to the Sepulcher. Pietà is the term used to indicate the large table and its contents in the 16th century.

The theatrical character of the picture, which I have already highlighted, seems to recall the narrations staged by the various religious congregations of the time, including the Confraternity of Santa Croce. That of the Sacred Representations was a typical activity of these groups of flagellants, from their origins. That this type of sacred theater was also practiced by the Confraternity of Santa Croce di Fratta are proof of some texts of religious content handed down in writing and which were recited by the confreres on particular occasions and holidays, often with the aid of special scenographies.

In an inventory of the company drawn up in 1341 it appears that "unum librum cartarem bombicinarum in quo sunt laudes" was ordered, unfortunately not received: the components of the collection focused on the theme of the Passion of  Christ, subject of the large table ed  expression of the penitent devotional spirit of the Disciplined.

Some religious compositions were recited in procession. More often they were staged in the oratory; on these occasions some scenic devices were used, especially when the laude with univocal chant was replaced by the one with alternate chant and the narration by the dialogue between several characters.

It is possible for us to hypothetically reconstruct the partial content of the ancient book that was lost thanks to the transcription by an unknown hand of the lines of a laude with a single song on the theme of the Passion of Jesus Christ and a dramatic representation with several characters that included the use of a special stage apparatus, the Rapresentacio sancte apolonie virginis. In the inventories of the Confraternity there are also objects and clothing used for the shows: Mavarelli writes about it: "In fact, among the other objects and tools necessary for the sacred shows, we find a" vesta de chamois "  which evidently refers to a laude or representation having as its object the Passion of Jesus Christ and it is not to be assumed that in the not large collection there were more lauds dealing with the same subject ". 

In particular, the text that has come down to us focused on the Passion of Jesus Christ, dated 1496, which was staged by the confreres on the occasion of certain  religious holidays and anniversaries, it begins like this:  

Christo's passion

We cry with pain

For us fo crucifixo

Yeshu our lord


Weep bitterly

And don't forgive yourself

The mourning virgin

By god, you accompany her

Yes you consider

Pain that felt her

When jl figluol vedea

Die among doi latronj  




In the Deposition Luca Signorelli seems to have imprinted and blocked the drama of the event revived by the actors of the sacred representation:  the fainting Virgin painted at the foot of the Cross is that of the text, which “He felt such great pain / Lo cor came less / down on the ground trangoscione”; and so the Christ who “… I am crowned / Of them cruel thorns / Bloody head.  [...] Yeshu gets undressed / De tucti i vestimenti /  Steva shameless / Among so many people [...] Li vestimenti de sotta / Tucti was pin de blood / havean made the crunch / tucti was pin de blood / That was the great pain / when the stripper / The wounds rinovaro / that dier them keystrokes ". The table seems to refer to the passage also in detail, such as for example  in the nail taken from the feet of Christ that "Era si immeasurable", "Era si grande aguto". Thus the painter remains faithful to the description of the stiffened body of the Savior that appears in the passage.


In general, most critics agree in judging the autograph work and often remember it as the masterpiece of the painter's old age. The intervention of the workshop, when identified, is mostly limited to the predella,  which, however, most scholars praise as the best among his. Contrasting opinions on the table were expressed in the second half of the 19th century: Guardabassi describes it as one of the best works by Luca Signorelli, while Cavalcaselle and Morelli consider it to be inaccurate. While Cruttwell says she is convinced of the Signorellian authorship of the panel, Mancini does not consider the execution of the same too valuable, but appreciates with enthusiastic judgment the predella with the Stories of the True Cross. According to Venturi the work would go  ascribed to Luca Signorelli together with the workshop. Unlike most of the critics, Morisani tends to identify Signorelli's hand mostly also in the predella; vice versa Lenzini Moriondo confirms a consistent intervention of the shop also in the main table. They favor the attribution to the master Salmi, Scarpellini and Pazzagli. The recent enthusiastic judgment of Kanter on the execution of some portions of the table, for the critic certainly by the hand of Signorelli; to be attributed to the master are undoubtedly the figure of the pious woman  on the left, that of the dead Christ, the St. John the Evangelist; some passages of inferior quality, such as the scene of the Burial of Christ, suggest in the panel the intervention of a collaborator, identified by Kanter with Francesco Signorelli, who is also responsible for the predella which "does not reveal in the least the intervention of the safest hand and vigorous of Luca. " The last studies I have mentioned, from Kanter's comments to Henry's observations, have been conducted on the basis of already known documents, often incorrect in their interpretation,  without the considerations allowed by the paleographic corrections together with the discovery of new documentary material.  


Regarding the possibility that the aids have intervened in the realization of the altarpiece, a topic most discussed by scholars, we believe that a partial collaboration of the master with the aids may be probable, considering the date of execution of the same, that is, being a work of late maturity of the artist, when he often found himself using the support of the workshop. In this regard, there is an unpublished document preserved in the State Archives of Perugia, a notarial deed drawn up by Berardino di Nicola di Costanzo di Fratta “in capella sive ecclesia Sancte Crucis“. The document concerns the appointment of a procurator by Ursino di ser Giovanni, prior of the Confraternity in the period in which Luca Signorelli was called to paint the table, dates back to 1516 and is drawn up in the presence of the painter Vittorio di Montone. This leads us to think that Vittorio Cirelli, a Montonese artist who started painting with Luca Signorelli, was able to collaborate in the execution of the panel, but also personally wanting to believe that in the Deposition the hand of the older master is in any case to be traced in most of the itself and that the aids were made to complete small portions of the entire work, of very valuable workmanship even in the narrative scenes of the predella.  





Bibliography: Mancini 1832, II, pp. 72-73; Gualandi 1845, pp. 36-38; Milanesi 1850, p. 154; Waagen 1850, pp. 568-569; Crowe and Cavalcaselle 1871, p. 32; Guardabassi 1872, pp. 354-355, 367; Waagen 1875, pp. 135-136; Vischer 1879, pp. 114, 270-271; Berenson 1897, p. 181; Magherini Graziani 1897, pp. 212-215; Crowe and Cavalcaselle 1898, pp. 481-494; Cruttwell 1899, pp. 14, 100-102, 139; Mancini 1903, pp. 207-211; Berenson 1909, pp. 251; anonymous 1909, p. 70; de Wyzewa 1910, pp. 335-343; Venturi 1913, pp. 301, 402-406; Crowe and Cavalcaselle (cur. Borenius) 1914, pp. 107, 109; Venturi 1921, p. 65; Psalms 1921, pp. 13-14; Dussler 1927, p. 209, pl. 141, 143-144; Berenson 1932, p. 533; van Marle 1937, pp. 90-92; Morisani 1942, pp. 31-32; Cortona / Florence 1953, pp. 111-113, nos. 58-59; Psalms 1953, pp. 35, 59, 66-67, 72; Psalms 1953 a, pp. 116, 118; Baldini 1964, p. 489; Scarpellini 1964, p. 125; Lenzini Moriondo 1966, p. 28; Berenson 1968, p. 400; Battisti 1971, I, p. 489, n.249 (ed. 1992, p. 376); Mancini and Scarpellini 1983, pp. 33-34; Kanter 1989, pp. 244-248; Lightbown 1992, p. 152; Codovini and Vispi 1994-1998, p. 1-19; Van Cleave 1995, pp. 156-157; Henry, Kanter, Testa, pp. 153-154, 239-240.






60. 1514 February 13, Umbertide

ASPg, Notarile, not. Berardino by Nicola di Costanzo, Bastardelli, 931, cc.  509r-510r



Giovanni Francesco of the late Alberto di Umbertide and citizen of Perugia, mayor and procurator of the fraternity of S. Croce and Raniero di Giovanni, prior of the fraternity, sell to Matteo di Alberto of the said place, stipulating all rights for the heirs of Felice di Gentile di Perugia and share that the brotherhood has or may have in the future on three quarters of a piece of land located in the vicinity of the castle in the word Botani for the price of eighteen florins that they confess to have received and for which therefore they issue the payment receipt.  




61. 1515 July 8, Umbertide

ASPg, Notarile, not. Berardino by Nicola di Costanzo, Bastardelli, 932, cc. 407r- 408r


Ser Censorio di ser Giovanni, Orsino di Giovanni, Piergentile di ser Giovanni, Giacomo di Arcangelo, Pierangelo di Giacomo, Ciono di Piero, Meo di Filippo, Raniero di Giovanni camerlengo, Meo, Cristoforo di Silvestro, gathered in the chapel of S. Croce name Orsino di Giovanni and Giacomo di Arcangelo as their own proxies, entrusting them with making agreements and obligations and promising in the name of the fraternity with master Luca painter of Cortona and receiving promises from him "pro pingendo per ipsum unam tabulam sive cunam" and to do with him the act of allocation of the same.  




62. 1516 March 9, Umbertide

Municipal Library of Umbertide, Notary Archive, not. Paolo quondam Cristoforo Martinelli, 76, c. 68v.  



Giovanni Francesco of the late Alberto di Andrea di Umbertide, as mayor and procurator of the fraternity and of the hospital of S. Croce of the said place, having a sufficient mandate, as shown by the acts of the notary from Umbria Ser Bernardino, and Orsino di Giovanni, prior of the fraternity and also Paolo di Sebastiano di Paolo, chamberlain sell to Francesco and Piermatteo del fu Giacomo Martinelli, of Umbertide, and to the notary, stipulating for their brother Renzo, a piece of land located near the said castle in the word Ranco Giorgio undivided for another fourth part with his brother Nicola for the price of thirty-one and a half florins, which they confess to having received in cash and in money numbered in gold and money, for which therefore they issue the receipt for payment.




63. 1516 June 26, Umbertide

ASPg, Notarile, not. Berardino by Nicola di Costanzo, Bastardelli, 932, cc. 791v.-794v.



Giovanni Francesco of the late Alberto di Umbertide and citizen of Perugia, mayor and procurator of the fraternity of S. Croce together with the prior Orsino di Giovanni, the chamberlain Raniero di Giovanni and the brothers ser Censorio di Giovanni, ser Marino di Domenico, Giacomo di Arcangelo and Piergentile of ser Giovanni sell to Bartolomeo Cristiani two mines of a piece of land located in the vicinity of Umbertide in the word Ranco Giorgio and more or less that rises to the value of forty florins, which they confess to have received and for which therefore they issue the receipt for payment .



64. 1516 July 26, Umbertide

Municipal Library of Umbertide, Notarial Archive,  not. Marino Spunta, prot. 105, 2nd quarter (numbering ad annum), c. 78v.



Orsino del fu Giovanni di ser Orsino di Umbertide, prior of the fraternity of S. Croce in the same place, and ser Censorio di ser Giovanni, Giacomo di Arcangelo di Nicola and Antonio di Piero, officers and men of the said fraternity, having the authority to to do the things infrescribed by the general meeting of the brotherhood, forcing all the goods of the hospital and of the same fraternity, they sell to Bartolomeo del fu Tommaso Cristiani di Umbertide a  piece of land located in the word Faldo in the district of Montone for the price of twenty florins or for the higher and lower price that will be estimated by two commonly elected men. Of which twenty florins the same Orsino prior confesses to having received in cash to pay "magister Luce de Cortonio pictori pro pictura tabule picte in altari Sancte Crucis, videlicet pro rata" with the agreement to be able to buy it back within ten years.  



65. 1516 August 26, Umbertide

ASPg, Notarile, not. Berardino by Nicola di Costanzo, Bastardelli, 932, c. 837v.  



Orsino di Giovanni di ser Orsino appoints Ser Giovanni's Censorium as procurator, instructing him to represent him in every litigation. The deed is made "in capella sive ecclesia Sancte Crucis" in the presence of the painter from Montone Vittorio.




66. 1527  April 6, Umbertide

Municipal Library of Umbertide, Notarial Archive,  not. Marino Spunta, prot. 105, 3 °  quinterno (numbering ad annum), c. 67v.



Meo of the late Tommaso Cristiano alias Mascio di Umbertide confesses that he had received from Nardo of the late Mariotto di Giovanni di Meo, prior to the present of the brotherhood of S. Croce di Umbertide and stipulator for the said fraternity, thirty florins, which Meo had given "gratia and love  dicte fraternitati et hominibus ipsius pro solvendo mercedem suam magistro Luce de Cortonio pictori pro pictura quam fecerat de tabula seu cuna capelle  et fraternitatis Sancte  Crucis  in ecclesia predicta existente in altari maiori ”, as of this loan results from a deed drawn up by the notary of Umbertide ser Berardino di Nicola di Costanzo. Meo does this because he confesses to having received the money in this way, that is, twenty-eight florins from Giuliano di Angelo di Luca Fornari depositary of the fraternity and two florins from the notary himself, of which thirty florins thus received  therefore issues a receipt for payment.





  Christo's passion

We cry with pain

For us fo crucifixo

Yeshu our lord


Weep bitterly

And don't forgive yourself

The mourning virgin

By god, you accompany her

Yes you consider

Pain that felt her

When jl figluol vedea

Die among doi latronj


Time  and to be resurged

And cry with pain

L annima comtemplare

The sancta paxione

That it lasts too long

That we don't hear of it

Since then we believe

Jeshu will die for us


What a god to die for us

The story reconte

Con tucto how much jl core

I must think

That you can't be enough

Neither lengua nor scriptura

The death I make lasts

Of our Savior


He came on Thursday evening

Near a la paxione

Yeshu made dinner

Cum discipol sueie

Tucti comunicoe

And you can relieve the pious ones

Yeshu turned to serve

A traitor Judah


Yeshu the turned to comfort

Cum sweet parliament

Who must leave them

In great doubt

That sappressava jl time

Yeshu had to die

We have to maintain

En gran tribulatione


Yeshu at the olive grove

He went to oratione

Menò giovanni and pietro

And jacobo magiure

Yeshu is scary

Who had true flesh

He sweated drops of blood

It strongly nowva.


The apostles sleep

And christo while he was awake

But little if they heard

Of the punishment he carried

His patre called him

But he already didn't know

In ante pure volea

That he died for us


And he is a traitor

He came with a lot of people

To betray the lord

It came promptly

That said the fraudulent

Master god to save

Then if you go ahead

And in the mouth the bascione


Here people came

Cum many great lights

And incontinent peter

A coltel drew out

The ear to a coupon

And Christo tell them

Coltel back in sheath

that pleases your gentleman


When Christo fo taken

He took no breath

To him the derieto

Tightly tied together

Yeshu fought himself

Like a thief

That they had abandoned him

all your friends and friends


And peter denies it

Giovanni sen fugiva

For us the abandonment

Patro his heaven

Christo son of god

What fooled alone

If I find any

That he wanted to star cum him


And peter painful

Looking for Christo already

I went to warm to the fire

At anna pria's house

An ancilla tell them

You are de la su people

He answered contentedly

You never knew more


Cum fine great fear

If he began to ecuse it

swear it then

Cum mouth and cum your hands

He says in truth

I don't know who he is

Never in my life

You never saw him again

The first evening came

And the canton rooster

And to himself

Because he is arcordone

I denied it my lord

Three times I say it

I don't know where I am

Yes, I don't find him


Yeshu fo introduced

That he was a traitor

Yeshu fo acused

Cum false witnesses

great noise faccialli

saying undress undress

Tie it to the column

Tight cum the rope

Cum tanto de dur scourge

make him scourge

he was so morbid

tucto make him tremble

Without pity

Give them to the sever

The whole meat alisa

Pina de lividore


All that evening

I will give them the keystrokes

L coperson in gl ochi door

That he saw no light

And for more honor

In my face I spit them out

The beard peeled them

to give them more pain


Tirravan their hair

She gave them cheeks

And those were the hitmen

They were chosen

Danvanli the bearded

Et cum man cut

D prophesies

Who made you of us


Yeshu fo crowned

Of the cruel thorns

Bloody head

Corialli up to the pious

The Jews laughed

The head hit him

Cum le rods the Feriano

mocking him


The virgin mary

you havea great tremor

what a tucta that evening

there was a great noise

Alore adimandone

and said to an ancilla

You know me you tell news

Of my child Yeshune


You figluolo and taken

madonna in veritade

And so hurt her

What a tucto and full of wounds

Lo tu figluol domane

Sententato evening

You will see him hanging

En forca de thief


Madonna did not pose

And he found no place

The apostles asked

If they had seen him

Whether I live or die

Say it truthfully

I can no longer carry

That me if the core starts


I speak john and peter

And I talked to the mother

Your son is taken

Know it but n citade

We cannot enter

that the doors are closed

doman give them death

without any reason


Madonna heard this

He felt such pain

The heart is less

Down to earth trangoscione

Say love son

Not festi but sin

You're imprisoned

You weren't a thief


Then came the question

Get him out of prison

Send him to judge

That he was a criminal

There was a great noise

Say be cricifixo

Dician be crucified

Lassato be the thief


Lassato be the thief

Lassat sij Barabano

And this sinner 

We condemn it all

Up to Mount Calvary

Fierli carry the cross

Shouting out loud

Be dead with pain


When I am judged

There was great existence

The mouth of pilate

Si de quilla sententia

The third hour came

Send him to hang

De fuori de la citade

Where the evildoers


Fierli carry the cross

It was a heavy burden

Not if podia change

He was so weakened

The mother already de rieto

Who wanted to help him

He could not take them

So much was a great noise


There was a great noise

De rietro them gian shouting

She mocked him

The lotus gian lying to him

Givanlo spatassando

Soon the voleanmenare

Yeshu wanted to spoil

And doi thief cum him


His mother his taipina

Yet he wanted to see him

Pararse entered the street

Where there was to revolve

Nol podde support

Christo when he sees it

He was greatly distressed

Than in strangoscione land


When madonna il vedde

On earth strangled

He felt great pain

What if you leave and breathe

My figluol you were born

To alarm me so much pain

Now that I will do tarpina

Yes don't see you


You carry so much weight

Sweet figluol pleasing

Why you vie de rieto

Figluol so many people

O my grieving mother

Don't ask me

Menanme to hang

Cum quisti doi ladronj


Figluol I can not bring

I know crucifixa with you

Et where you turned

Yes I will come to you

When you will be open

Nol podaro see

Figluol let me die

Ch I do not want to live more


Then that I give to the place

Where he must dress

Undress him naked

Without pity

Now what was the mother doing

When he saw him naked

Say I'm a figluolo

I cannot live longer


Yeshu gets undressed

De tucti i vestimenti

Steva ashamed

In among so many people

They were obnoxious

Cum villania tamanta

What even the clothes of the leg

They leave the robbers


You dress them de sotta

Tucti were pin de blood

Havean crunched

Tucti were pin de blood

That was the great pain

When I undress him

The wounds renovate

That will give them the keystrokes


Tolser clothes them

And misarce the fate

Christo they said to each other 

Mourning the times (?)

You are worthy of death

Thief you go watching

  You are boasting of us

You say you were sir


Yeshu has taken off his clothes

And set up in the wood

And tightly bolted

Cum three iron latches

It was so cold

When he keyed it

Blood if it froze

What a descurria di fuore


Le man li chiavellaro

Leave it spent

Li piei li sopronaro

I put the third chiuovo

It was immeasurable

He was so great aguto

And so much fo beaten

Not if vedea de fuore


And so much the ironing

The nerbora stendea

The bones I schopparo them

The flesh breaks

The blood comes out

It fell down to the earth

O virgin polzella

So much was your pain






Help us remember


- Photo: Giulio Foiani

- Photo: Fabio Mariotti

Le predelle.JPG



Anon. 1909

Anon., Umbrian Art Review,  I, (1909), p. 70.


Baldini 1964

U Baldini, Luca Signorelli, in Universal Encyclopedia of Art, XII, Venice-Rome, 1964, pp. 487-491.


Baptists 1971

E. Battisti,  Piero della Francesca, Milan 1971, Milan 1992.


Berenson  1897

B. Berenson, The Central Italian Painters of the Reinassance, London 1897.


Berenson 1909

B. Berenson, The Central Italian Painters, London 1909.


Berenson 1932

B. Berenson, Italian Pictures of the Reinassance, Oxford 1932.


Berenson 1968

B. Berenson, Italian Pictures of the Reinassance, Central Italian and North Italian Schools, London 1968.


Borenius 1929

T. Borenius, Dussler Review 1927, in "The Burlington Magazine" LIV (1929), pp. 41-42.


Pigtails  & Vispi 1994

R. Codovini & P. Vispi, Luca Signorelli's Paintings at Fratta Perugina, Rome 1994.


Crowe & Cavalcaselle 1871

JA Crowe and GB Cavalcaselle, Geschichte der Italienischen Malerei, Leipzig 1871, vol. 4.


Crowe & Cavalcaselle 1898

JACrowe  and GBCavalcaselle, History of painting in Italy, Florence 1898, vol. VIII.


Crowe & Cavalcaselle 

[cur. Borenius] 1914

JACrowe and GB Cavalcaselle, A History of Painting in Itali, vol. : Umbrian and Sienese Masters of the Fifteenth Century [cur. T. Borenius], London 1914


Cruttwel 1899

M. Cruttwel, Luca Signorelli, London 1899.



Gualandi 1845

M. Gualandi, Original Italian memoirs concerning the beautiful atriums, Bologna, 1845.


Down Guard 1872

M. Guardabassi, Index - Guide of Pagan and Christian Monuments… of Umbria, 1872.



M. Guardabassi, Notes on the church of Santa Croce in Umbertine, vol. 5, fasc. 2258, ms. preserved in the Augusti Library, Perugia.


Guerrini 1883

A.Guerrini, History of the land of Fratta now Umbertide from its origins until the year 1845, Umbertide 1883.


Henry, Kanter, Testa 2001

T. Henry, L. Kanter, G. Testa, Luca Signorelli, Milan 2001.


Kanter 1989

L. Kanter, The Late Works of Luca Signorelli and His Followers, 1489-1559, PhD thesis, New York University 1989.



Lenzini Moriondo 1966

M. Lenzini Moriondo, Signorelli 1966.


Lightbown 1992

R. Lightbown, Piero della Francesca, New York, London- Paris 1992.


Magherini Graziani 1897

G. Magherini Graziani, Art in Città di Castello, Città di Castello 1897.


Mancini and Scarpellini 1983

Cur. FF Mancini and P. Scarpellini, Painting in Umbria between 1480 and 1540, Milan 1983.


Mancini 1832

G.Mancini, Historical and pictorial instruction to visit the churches and palaces of Città di Castello, Perugia 1832.


Mancini 1903

Girolamo Mancini, Life of Luca Signorelli, Florence 1903.


Mavarelli / Porrozzi

F.Mavarelli, Historical news and praises of the Company of disciplines of Santa Maria Nuova and Santa Croce, Umbertide…., Cur. B. Porrozzi, The work of Francesco Mavarelli, Città di Castello 1998.  


Milanese 1850

C. Milanesi, G. Milanesi, C. Pini, V. Marchese, Notes and commentary on the life of Luca Signorelli, in G. VasarLI, 1985.i, The Lives of the Most Excellent Architects, Painters and Sculptors, Florence [1568] , cur. C. Milanesi et al. Florence (14 vol. 1846-1870.) VI, 1850. pp. 136-158.


Porrozzi 1983

B. Porrozzi, Umbertide and its territory, Città di Castello 1983.


Porrozzi 1998

B. Porrozzi, The work of Francesco Mavarelli, Città di Castello 1998.


Porrozzi  2001

B. Porrozzi, edited by, Statutes and Orders of the Fraternity of Santa Croce in Fratta (Umbertide) from 1567 to 1741, Città di Castello 2001.


Psalms 1921

M. Salmi, Luca Signorelli, Florence 1921.


Psalms 1953

M. Salmi, Luca Signorelli, Novara 1953.


Psalms 1653 a

M.Salmi, Chiosa signorelliana, in “Commentari”, IV, (1953), pp. 107-118.


Van Cleave 1995

C. Van Cleave, Luca Signorelli as a Draughtsman, unpublished doctoral thesis, Oxford University 1995.


Van Marle 1937

R. van Marle, The Development of the Italian Schools of Painting, XVI, The Hague 1937.



Venturi 1913.  

    A Venturi, History of Italian Art, VII. 2 Milan 1913.


Venturi 1921

A. Venturi, Luca Signorelli, Florence 1921.



Vischer 1879

R.Vischer, Luca Signorelli und die Italienische Reinassance Eine Kunsthistorische Monographie, Leipzig 1879.


Waagen 1950

GF Waagen, Die Maler Andrea Mantegna und Luca Signorelli, in „H Istorisches TaschenbUch“ 3.1 (1850) PP. 473-594, spec. PP. 554-594.


Waagen 1875

GF Waagen after A. Waagen, Uber Leber, Wirken und Werke der Maler Andrea Mantegna und Luca Signorelli, in Kleine Schriften von GF Waagen, Stuttgart 1875, pp. 80-144, in part. Pp. 128-144.


de Wyzewa 1910

T. de Wyzewa, A propos de quelques dessinsi italiens: une „Descente de Croix“ by Luca Signorelli, in „Revue de l'Art Ancien et Moderne“, XXVII (1910), pp. 335-343.








  1. SCC = Historic Archive of Città di Castello

AS Pg. = State Archives of Perugia

BCCC = Municipal Library of Città di Castello.

BCM = Municipal Library of Montone

BCU = Municipal Library of Umbertide

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