The Musée des Augustins owns several masterpieces of Italian painting of the 16th century. It was at this time that Giorgio Vasari developed the most long lasting theories in art history, in his Lives of the Artists: the opposition between Florence and Venice and the constant progress in art until Vasari's absolute ideal: Michelangelo's art.
Perugino, Raphaël's master, is represented by the exceptional St. John the Evangelist and St. Augustine. It is one of the most beautiful fragments of a huge altarpiece, the polyptych of the church of Sant'Agostino of Perugia, divided between the Louvre and the museums of Perugia, Lyon and Grenoble. The idealised grace of the two saints and the bright and gentle landscape reflect the quest for perfection of the Renaissance in central Italy. The museum has very few works from the first Renaissance. We do however have many more Mannerist works from the second half of the century. Mannerism is a theatrical, exaggerated artistic expression which appeared as a reaction to the unsurpassable classicism of Raphael and to tragic events such as the Sack of Rome in 1527.
Cristofano GHERARDI (Borgo San Sepolcro, 1508 - Borgo San Sepolcro, 1556),
La Visitation de la Vierge à sainte Elisabeth,
Entre 1541 et 1545
Inv. 2004 1 116
Photo Daniel Martin
Cristofano Gherardi was a pupil of Vasari and his art was usually outweighed by his master's. The construction of his The Visitation of the Virgin to St. Elizabeth is extremely complex with its ambitious imaginary architecture and its elegant figures. Unique works add to this journey through Mannerism, such as the incredible Virgin and Child and the Mystery of the Passion by the Parmesan painter Tinti, a morbid foreshadowing of the death of Christ, or Rest on the Flight into Egypt, a work of extraordinary delicacy by Jacopo Zucchi, the Florentine painter in the service of Cardinal Alexander Farnese.