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Bill Thayer

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Umbria Santa
Corrado Ricci

The Author and the Book

Corrado Ricci (1858‑1934) was an Italian art historian and critic. At age 19 he wrote a guide to the monuments of his native city of Ravenna in Emilia-Romagna, launching a long career in the course of which he directed several important museums, reorganizing them to optimize research, inventory and display; and was the general editor of the "Italia Artistica", a prominent series of illustrated monographs of major monuments thruout Italy. His most lasting contribution is probably the law, passed on his initiative, that established the Italian national art and antiquities authority. As might be expected, he also wrote a number of books, many of them connected more or less closely with Emilia-Romagna.

The book reproduced here is a survey of Umbrian art, or at least of the best-known artists of the region: Perugino, Pintoricchio and Signorelli (who was properly a Tuscan but from very near Umbria, and whose masterwork is his fresco of the Last Judgment in the Umbrian cathedral of Orvieto) — but also Giotto, Benozzo Gozzoli, Matteo da Gualdo, Lo Spagna, Mezzastris, Melanzio and others. They don't really constitute a homogeneous group, and Ricci attempts to provide a common thread in the spiritual heritage and traditions of Umbria, with partial success.


Umbria Santa


The Franciscan Landscape


Franciscan Visions in Dante and in Giotto


St. Rita






Luca Signorelli


Vows and Halters


The Madonna del Popolo di Monte­falco




Technical Details

Edition Used, Copyright

I transcribed this online version from an undated edition by Faber & Gwyer, London. An English edition was published by that firm in time to be reviewed in January 1928 (Burl. Mag. 52:298:49) and included (AJA 32:248) in a bibliography of archaeological works for 1927. The edition I have in front of me may well have been the first, dating to 1927 or possibly 1926.

Corrado Ricci, the author, first published the Italian work in 1926, and died in 1934. The underlying Italian text therefore rose into the public domain on January 1, 2005.

The translator was one H. C. Stewart, who remains unidentifiable to me despite my best efforts: although there are several more or less contemporaneous writers by that name, none seems to have left any trace as an expert in any of the fields covered by the book; and in fact, several curious, elementary mistakes in the text — which is otherwise well enough translated — betray a lack of expertise in Italian art criticism. The translation was thus clearly done for hire, and the translator's death date therefore doesn't enter into the book's copyright status: the translation has been in the public domain since 1997 or 1998.


The printed edition includes 55 black-and‑white photographs, well-chosen if somewhat dark and pasty by modern standards. They were placed on special pages tipped in at various places in the text, often curiously a few pages ahead of the text they're meant to accompany. I've moved many of them to the more appropriate place; the original page location of the image is indicated in the sourcecode as well as by the URL of the image. The frontispiece and three others do not relate in any way whatever to anything in the text: I've therefore placed them in the Table of Illustrations.


As almost always, I retyped the text by hand rather than scanning it — not only to minimize errors prior to proofreading, but as an opportunity for me to become intimately familiar with the work, an exercise which I heartily recommend: Qui scribit, bis legit. (Well-meaning attempts to get me to scan text, if success­ful, would merely turn me into some kind of machine: gambit declined.)

This transcription has been minutely proofread. In the table of contents above, the sections are shown on blue backgrounds, indicating that I believe the text of them to be completely errorfree. As elsewhere onsite, the header bar at the top of each chapter's webpage will remind you with the same color scheme.

The edition I followed was well proofread, with those few small translator mistakes I mentioned, but almost no strictly typographical errors I could identify, although there may always be some in dates and numbers. I marked my corrections, when important (or unavoidable because inside a link), with a bullet like this;º and when trivial, with a dotted underscore like this: as elsewhere on my site, glide your cursor over the bullet or the underscored words to read the variant. Similarly, bullets before measurements provide conversions to metric, e.g., 10 miles.

A number of odd spellings, curious turns of phrase, etc. have been marked <!‑‑ sic  in the sourcecode, just to confirm that they were checked.

Any over­looked mistakes, please drop me a line, of course: especially if you have a copy of the printed book in front of you.

Pagination and Local Links

For citation and indexing purposes, the pagination is shown in the right margin of the text at the page turns (like at the end of this line p57 ); these are also local anchors. Sticklers for total accuracy will of course find the anchor at its exact place in the sourcecode.

In addition, I've inserted a number of other local anchors: whatever links might be required to accommodate the author's own cross-references, as well as a few others for my own purposes. If in turn you have a website and would like to target a link to some specific passage of the text, please let me know: I'll be glad to insert a local anchor there as well.

My icon for the book is a detail of the Nativity scene from the predella of The Assumption of the Virgin by Perugino in the church of S. Maria Assunta in Corciano, about 10 km E of Lake Trasimeno, and takes its cue from our author's passage (pp111‑112) on the essential Umbrian character of Perugino's sacred landscapes.

This framing, by the way, of the Trasimenian landscape between the uprights of a stylized stable might seem a painterly conceit; but if you're familiar with Umbria, much less so: her people are very aware of their landscape and often enough frame it themselves, as in this striking example at Montecastello di Vibio.

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Site updated: 13 Jan 13