AGABITI, Pietro Paolo
(b. ca. 1470, Sassoferato, d. ca. 1540, Cupramontana)

Biography

Italian painter and possible woodcutter. He spent his early years in Sassoferrato, where his family owned a ceramics workshop. Around 1497 he probably visited the Veneto region, since his Virgin and Child with Saints (Padua, Museo Civico) painted that year shows the strong influence of painters active there such as Cima da Conegliano. The painting also reflects the Bolognese style of Francesco Francia and that of the Romagnian Marco Palmezzano. In Venice, Agabiti may have made woodcuts after the illustrations for Francesco Colonna's Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (Venice, 1499). By 1502 he had returned to the Marches, where he executed a painting (untraced) for San Rocco, Jesi, the town where in 1507 he is documented as residing. After 1510 he was again in Sassoferrato, where in 1511 he signed and dated both the Virgin and Child Enthroned with Saints (Sassoferrato, Galleria Civica d'Arte Moderna) and the Nativity in Santa Maria del Piano. In 1518, for the same church, he signed and dated an altarpiece depicting the Virgin and Child with SS Catherine and John the Baptist (in situ). In San Fortunato, Sassoferrato, he executed the Virgin and Child with Saints (1521; in situ), in which the influence of Marco Palmezzano is even more evident.

Between 1522 and 1524, in collaboration with Andrea da Jesi the younger, Agabiti executed a series of frescoes in the Palazzo di Citta, Jesi. In 1524, for Santa Croce, Sassoferrato, he painted a panel with SS Benedict, Maurus and Placid on the front and SS Peter Damian and Scholastica on the rear (Fonte Avellama, Abbazia; Urbino, Palazzo Ducale). In 1528 he painted the Virgin and Child Enthroned with SS John the Baptist and Anthony (Jesi, Pinacoteca Civica). The lunette depicts St Francis Receiving the Stigmata and the predella shows the Nativity, the Adoration of the Magi and various Saints. Here the links with Cima da Conegliano and Marco Palmezzano are again in evidence, and there are also references to Carlo Crivelli's use of colour. In 1530 Agabiti painted the Virgin and Child with Saints for the Badia, San Lorenzo in Campo. The following year he retired to the Convento dell'Eremita, Cupramontana, where he remained until his death.

Agabiti's work is retardataire; he did not adapt his style to suit 16th-century taste and remained instead nostalgically attached to the formal language of the 15th century.