Pinturicchio, Bernardino an Italian painter of much celebrity, was born at Perugia in 1454. His real name was Betti Biagi, but he was often called Sordicchio, from his deafness and insignificant appearance, but Pinturicchio was his usual name.
He was a disciple of Pietro Perugino (q.v.). His earlier works no longer exist. He never perfected himself in the use of oil mediums, but was confined almost entirely to tempera. He went to Rome, and probably labored with Perugino in the Sistine Chapel.
He afterwards executed almost numberless frescos in the churches and palaces of that city. He was first patronized by the Roveri, and then by the Piccolomini. For Alexander VI he decorated the Apartamento Borgia in the Vatican; five of these rooms still remain in their original state.
His pictures in the Castle of S. Angelo have been completely destroyed. During his engagements in Rome he went twice to Orvieto, for the execution of commissions there.
The amount of his labors was surprising, but is explained by his great facility of execution and the employment of many assistants. He was not original 'in his compositions; he loved landscapes, but he cumbered them with too much detail; his figures of virgins, infants, and angels have a certain coarseness; he used too much gilt and ornamentation; his draperies were full, but often badly cast; his works are either too gaudy or very somber, no pleasing medium seeming to suggest itself to him; his flesh has the red outlines of the earliest tempera; and yet with all these faults he painted at a time when the great precepts of art were well known, and his works are good exponents of skilled labor in art without any striking or exceptional power in the artist.
It is scarcely possible here to give more than a list of the churches in which he painted: in Rome they were the Araceli, S. Cecilia in Trastevere, Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, and S. Onofrio. In 1496 he returned to Perugia, and undertook an altar-piece for S. Maria de' Fossi (now S. Anna), to be completed in two years. This is the most finished of his works, and more full of feeling than any other. He next adorned the collegiate church of Spello; but his works there are fast disappearing from the effects of dampness.
The Crucifixion with Sts. Jerome and Christopher, 1471, oil on wood, 59 × 40 cm, Galleria Borghese, Rome.
Nativity, at Collegiata di Santa Maria Maggiore, Spello, Italy.