Bologna c.1490 - Bologna c.1575


Relatively little is known of the career of Biagio Pupini, who is mentioned only incidentally by Giorgio Vasari in his life of Bartolomeo Ramenghi, called Bagnacavallo, with whom Pupini often worked in Bologna. Thought to have been a pupil of Francesco Francia, Pupini is first documented - already described as magister - working with Bagnacavallo in a church in Faenza in 1511. He must have also spent some time in Rome in the late 1510’s or 1520’s, where he copied the works of Raphael and Polidoro da Caravaggio, although the exact date of this trip is undocumented. Pupini worked with Bagnacavallo at the church of San Salvatore in Bologna around 1524, and the following year collaborated with Girolamo da Carpi on the fresco decoration of the sacristy of San Michele in Bosco. In 1537 he again worked alongside Girolamo da Carpi on the frescoes of the Sala delle Vigne of the d’Este villa at Belriguardo, southeast of Ferrara. A painting by Pupini of The Virgin and Child with Saints John the Baptist and Nicholas of Tolentino, painted for the sacristy of the cathedral at Fabriano and now in the Pinacoteca there, is dated 1545. In his biography of the artist published in the Pitture di Bologna of 1686, Malvasia lists several paintings by Pupini, almost all of which are now lost or destroyed.

As a result of the dearth of known paintings by Biagio Pupini, his artistic personality is best studied in the many distinctive drawings by him that survive. Often on prepared or coloured paper and employing extensive white heightening, these drawings reflect the influence of both the North Italian and Roman traditions, particularly the draughtsmanship of Polidoro da Caravaggio, Parmigianino and Girolamo da Carpi. Pupini drew numerous copies after antique masters, and also several copies after works by Raphael and his followers. Relatively few drawings by Pupini, however, can be related to surviving paintings or frescoes by the artist. The largest extant groups of drawings by Pupini are today in the Louvre and the Uffizi.