Decemviri Altarpiece – Pinacoteca Vaticana – Vatican City

The altarpiece, conceived to adorn the Cappella dei Prior in Perugia, was originally commissioned by the Decemviri in 1479 to Pietro di Galeotto, but he died in 1483; therefore, after considering Sante di Apollonio and Bartolomeo Caporali to complete the work, in 1495 the execution of the painting was commissioned to Perugino, who resided permanently in Perugia at the time.
When, after the Salt War in 1540, Pope Paul III suppressed the Magistrature and, as a result, the power of the Decemviri, the work was moved from the original place; after 1553, the painting was transferred to their new chapel on the first floor of the Palazzo dei Priori. During the Napoleonic requisitions, the work was transferred to the Louvre; it was then recovered in 1815 by Canova, but it never came back to Perugia, ending up in the collections of the Pinacoteca Vaticana.
The Altarpiece originally also included a cymatium showing Christ on the sarcophagus, now at the Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria.
At the center of the composition, as in the painting for the church of San Domenico in Fiesole and for that of Sant’Agostino in Cremona, an imposing central throne fill the scene. Mary is seated on it, with the Child on his knees, while on the sides four saints are attending to the event: these are the four Patrons of Perugia Saint Costanzo, Saint Ercolano, Saint Lorenzo and Saint Ludovico of Toulouse.
The work is preserved at the Pinacoteca Vaticana inside the Vatican Museums, in Vatican City.
Perugino, Pala dei Decemviri, about 1495-1496, oil on panel, 193 x 165 cm, Vatican City, Pinacoteca Vaticana / Copyright © Governatorato dello Stato della Città del Vaticano - Direzione dei Musei