AKA Perino Buonaccorsi
Birthplace: Florence, Italy
Location of death: Rome, Italy
Cause of death: unspecified
Religion: Roman Catholic
Race or Ethnicity: White
Executive summary: Painter of the Roman School
Perino del Vaga, a painter of the Roman school, whose true name was Perino (or Piero) Buonaccorsi. He was born near Florence on the 28th of June 1500. His father ruined himself by gambling, and became a soldier in the invading army of Charles VIII. His mother dying when he was but two months old, he was suckled by a she-goat; but shortly afterwards he was taken up by his father’s second wife. Perino was first apprenticed to a druggist, but soon passed into the hands of a mediocre painter, Andrea da Ceri, and, when eleven years of age, of Ridolfo Ghirlandaio. Perino rapidly surpassed his fellow pupils, applying himself especially to the study of Michelangelo’s great cartoon. Another mediocre painter, Vaga from Toscanella, undertook to settle the boy in Rome, but first set him to work in Toscanella. Perino, when he at last reached Rome, was utterly poor, and with no clear prospect beyond journey-work for trading decorators. He, however, studied with great severity and spirit from Michelangelo and the antique, and was eventually entrusted with some of the subordinate work undertaken by Raphael in the Vatican. He assisted Giovanni da Udine in the stucco and arabesque decorations of the loggie of the Vatican, and executed some of those small but finely composed scriptural subjects which go by the name of “Raphael’s Bible” — Raphael himself furnishing the designs. Perino’s examples are: “Abraham about to sacrifice Isaac”, “Jacob wrestling with the Angel”, “Joseph and his Brethren”, the “Hebrews crossing the Jordan”, the “Fall and Capture of Jericho”, “Joshua commanding the Sun to stand still”, the “Birth of Christ”, “His Baptism” and the “Last Supper.” Some of these are in bronze-tint, while others are in full color. He also painted, after Raphael’s drawings, the figures of the planets in the great hall of the Appartamenti Borgia. Perino exhibited very uncommon faculty in these works and was soon regarded as second only to Giulio Romano among the great painter’s assistants. To Raphael himself he was always exceedingly respectful and attentive, and the master loved him almost as a son. He executed many other works about Rome, always displaying a certain mixture of the Florentine with the Roman style.
After Raphaels death in 1520 a troublous period ensued for Perino, with a plague which ravaged Rome in 1523, and again with the sack of that city in 1527. Then he accepted an invitation to Genoa, where he was employed in decorating the Doria Palace, and rapidly founded a quasi-Roman school of art in the Ligurian city. He ornamented the palace in a style similar to that of Giulio Romano in the Mantuan Palazzo del Tè, and frescoed historical and mythological subjects in the apartments, fanciful and graceful arabesque work, sculptural and architectural details — in short, whatever came to hand. Among the principal works are: the “War between the Gods and Giants”, “Horatius Cocles defending the Bridge”, and the “Fortitude of Mutius Scaevola.” The most important work of all, the “Shipwreck of Acneas”, is no longer extant. From Genoa Perino twice visited Pisa, and began some painting in the cathedral. Finally he returned to Rome, where Pope Paul III allowed him a regular salary until the painter’s death. He retouched many of the works of Raphael, and labored hard on his own account, undertaking all sorts of jobs, important or trivial. Working for any price, he made large gains, but fell into mechanical negligence. Perino was engaged in the general decoration of the Sala Reale, begun by Paul III, when his health, undermined by constant work and as constant irregularities, gave way, and he fell down dead on the 19th of October 1547. He is buried in the Pantheon.
Perino produced some excellent portraits, and his smaller oil pictures combine with the manner of Raphael something of that of Adrea del Sarto. Many of his works were engraved, even in his own lifetime. Daniele Ricciarelli, Girolamo Siciolante da Sermoneta, Luzio Romano and Marcello Venusti (Mantovano) were among his principal assistants.