VIDEO: Matt’s Wuthering Art #1 – Dead Christ (Perugino, 1496)

Happy new year!!! With the new year, I decided to inaugurate a new series where I look at individual paintings I encounter in my travels and talk about the painters who made them, plus reveal tidbits about their historical contexts. This series I decided to name “Matt’s Wuthering Art” after one of my favorite songs, Kate Bush’s “Wuthering Heights,” not because of the song itself but because in the album where it was included, The Kick Inside, she has this other song called “The Saxophone Song,” which opens with the lyrics:

“You’ll find me in a Berlin bar,
In a corner brooding.”

Somehow, those words ring true to me.

I filmed the first episode of this series in the Medieval art city of Perugia in Italy, while staying in a flat at the heart of its historical centre, just a few metres away from the Palazzo dei Priori. So, I thought it just about right to kick off with the best-known artist from the area, Pietro Vannucci, who in fact is also commonly referred to as Il Perugino, which literally means “the man from Perugia.”

Perugino was one of the biggest Italian artists of the Renaissance period, although he is best-known today as the mentor of Raphael, who in my books invented artistic “perfection.” The painting I use as a starting point to talk about Perugino is his Dead Christ, a part of his “Pala dei Decemviri,” which I had the pleasure of seeing with my own two eyes at the Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria – a museum within the Palazzo dei Priori that exhibits much of the great art produced in the region of Umbria – from early Gothic to the Baroque.

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