Portrait of don Biagio Milanesi

Pietro Vannucci detto Perugino

Data sheet

  • Author: Pietro Vannucci detto Perugino
  • Date: 1500
  • Collection: PAINTING
  • Technique: Oil on panel
  • Dimensions: 29 X 27 cm.
  • Inventory: Inv. 1890 n. 8375


The small panels with portraits of the monks Biagio Milanesi and Baldassarre di Angelo make up the only surviving elements of the predella of the altarpiece that was originally on the main altar in the Abbey of Santa Maria Assunta at Vallombrosa. The Assumption of the Virgin, reflecting the dedication of the church, is at the centre of the work and was executed between 1497 and 1500. It represents one of the most characteristic examples of Perugino’s period of activity in Florence. It was brought to France after the suppression of the convent (1810) and, upon its return to Italy in 1817, it was placed in the Accademia Gallery, where it is exhibited together with its other component panels in the Sala del Colosso.
The paintings in question – undisputed portraiture masterpieces of the period – stand out for the meticulous description in the facial features and the intensity of the individuals’ expressions, providing extraordinary testimony to the Umbrian artist’s insight into Flemish painting and Leonardo’s naturalism.


At the end of the fifteenth century, Don Biagio Milanesi held the post of general of the Vallombrosan order and abbot of the mother church and is also mentioned as having commissioned Perugino to paint the altarpiece. His identity can be deduced from the elegant inscription in capital letters along the edges of the painting.
The abbot is depicted in profile as he raises his gaze and wrinkles his brow towards the miraculous scene represented in the main panel; he wears a brown hooded habit and has a shaved head, a sign of his monastic status. With masterly technique, Perugino renders great immediacy and serene religiosity to a portrait “taken from life”.


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