BONFIGLI, Benedetto
(b. ca. 1420, Perugia, d. 1496, Perugia)


Italian painter. He was almost certainly trained in Perugia between 1430 and 1440, where a Late Gothic style was still dominant. Subsequently he was influenced by Fra Angelico, whose polyptych (Galleria Nazionale dell'Umbria, Perugia) for San Domenico, Perugia, was commissioned in 1437, and more importantly by Domenico Veneziano, who worked in that city c. 1438. The influence of Domenico Veneziano and of Gentile da Fabriano can be seen in Bonfigli's earliest surviving work, a polyptych (now dismembered), which had a central panel of the Virgin and Child (El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso), shown against a densely wooded background, and St Sebastian and a Bishop Saint (Montserrat Museum, Montserrat) on one wing. Another wing (untraced) shows St Bernardino of Siena and St Anthony Abbot.

Bonfigli is first documented on 7 March 1445, when he undertook to paint a Virgin and Child with Two Angels (untraced) for a chapel near San Pietro, Perugia. A votive fresco of SS Catherine and Clement I in San Cristoforo, Passignano, is dated 1446 and is very close to Bonfigli's style, but given its poor quality it should probably be attributed to one of his followers. It demonstrates, however, that by that date he was an established and imitated master.

Bonfigli was employed in the Vatican in 1450 by Pope Nicholas V, and he clearly studied Fra Angelico's frescoes there. Benozzo Gozzoli's extended presence in Umbria (1450-56) was also important for confirming the direction Bonfigli's art would take.

His masterpiece, and one of the outstanding secular fresco cycles of the mid-fifteenth century, was the decoration of a chapel in the Palazzo dei Priori in Perugia, painted in two phases, between 1455 and 1461, and 1461 and 1479. The frescoes were not finished in 1496, in which year Bonfigli's will is dated. They represent the Lives of St Louis of Toulouse and St Herculanus.

An Adoration of the Magi (c. 1460) was painted for San Domenico. A Banner (gonfalone) was painted in 1465 for the brotherhood of San Bernardino, and representing the deeds of their patron saint; another gonfalone painted for the brotherhood of San Fiorenzo in 1476, in honour of the Virgin, who had been prayed to intercede for the cessation of the plague. He painted a Virgin of Mercy' (1478) for the church of the Commenda di Santa Croce; and several others in and around Perugia.

Together with his compatriot Bartolomeo Caporali, Benedetto Bonfigli was the key personality in Perugia prior to Perugino.