Peruzzi, Baldassare

Peruzzi, Baldassare an eminent Italian painter and architect, was born at Accajano, near Siena, Tuscany, Jan. 15, 1480. He was the child of poor parents, but by dint of persevering effort he succeeded in obtaining a knowledge of painting from some unknown master in his native city, and afterwards pursued his studies in Rome. While there he formed an intimacy with Raffaelle, for whom he had the most ardent admiration. He attained great eminence at Rome, and received patronage from many of the nobility, and also from pope Alexander VI. In perspective and architecture — on which subject he left several MSS. — he especially distinguished himself; and was even preferred to Bramante, under whom he is said to have studied. Indeed, his work in this branch of art was so skillfully done, and so closely imitated bass-reliefs and real architecture, that the most perfect illusions were produced; and it is said that his perspectives in the arches of the ceiling at the Farnese palace, representing the History of Perseus and other mythological subjects embellished with bass-reliefs, were so admirably executed that Titian himself was deceived by them, and was only convinced of his error by observing the works from other points of view. He was employed in designing and ornamenting numerous churches, palaces, and chapels, all of which were masterpieces, the Palazzo Massimo being considered one of the most original and tasteful edifices in Rome. He was architect of St. Peter's, at Rome, being employed for that work by pope Leo X, with a salary of two hundred and fifty crowns per annum. His frescos were marvels of beauty, and evinced remarkable talent. He also achieved great excellence in grotesques, a style of painting which affords unlimited scope for the play of the imagination. With the ability to comprehend its principles, he combined rare judgment and good taste, exhibiting surprising skill in the arrangement and adaptation of figures as devices emblematic of stories which they surrounded. It is said too that he engraved on wood, and that he wrote a treatise on the Antiquities of Rome, and a Commentary on Vitruvius, which he purposed to illustrate with wood-engravings. His oil-paintings are rare, but among those mentioned are the Adoration of the Magi, in the National Gallery at London; Charity, in the Museum at Berlin; and a piece containing half-length figures of the Virgin, St. John, and St. Jerome. Critics are unanimous in commendation of his grandeur of conception, purity of design, and nobleness of execution; and Lanzi says of him, "If other artists surpassed him in the vastness of their works, they never did in excellence." He always remained poor, being too modest to push his way among rivals; and, though patronized by the nobility, he received a merely nominal compensation for his best works. Pursued during his life by misfortune, he died — poisoned by a rival — in the prime of his manhood, in 1536. Artists of every class assisted at his obsequies, and he was buried in the Pantheon by the side of Raffaelle. The greatness of his talent was recognized after his death; and posterity pays its just tribute to his wonderful genius. Among his other works were The Judgment of Paris; The Sibyl announcing to Augustus the Birth of Christ; and several pieces representing Bible history, among which were three events in the history of Jonah. See Hoefer, Nouv. Biog. Generale, 39:675; Spooner, Biog. Hist. of the Fine Arts, 2:679.

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