Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Art History

Major Professor

Helena K. Szépe, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Giovanna Benadusi, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Elisabeth Fraser, Ph.D.


Vasari, Connoisseurship, Patronage, Workshops, Methodology


In 1959, Federico Zeri isolated an Umbrian painter and named him the Master of the Greenville after the Madonna and Child with Angels tondo in Greenville, South Carolina. Through connoisseurship, scholars have since attributed over thirty-two works to the Master of the Greenville, categorizing the anonymous artist as a close follower of Perugino's style.

My research focuses on a Nativity panel now in the Museum of Fine Arts in Saint Petersburg, Florida. It is called the Jonas Nativity after its former owner, the late art collector Harriet H. Jonas. Through connoisseurship, scholars have almost exclusively focused on attributing the Jonas Nativity to an artist in the framework of Perugino's stylistic influence. Although the Jonas Nativity is clearly indebted to Perugino, the emphasis on naming the artist has led to formal analyses that almost exclusively rely on connoisseurship. As a result, there is virtually no critical analysis on the Jonas Nativity outside the context of this method.

Pietro Scarpellini has argued that scholars place too much emphasis on Peruginoís stylistic influence when interpreting Umbrian art ñ he labeled this problem the ìmyth of Perugino.î Scarpellini asserts that the myth is a methodological emphasis on Peruginoís stylistic influence on Umbrian images. Scarpellini traces the origins of the myth to Vasari, who wrote in Peruginoís biography that he established a significant stylistic following in Umbria. Later, Vasariís account was interpreted by writers of the Romantic Period as an Umbrian School of Painting dominated by Perugino; this viewpoint has remained prevalent in critical interpretations on Umbrian art through today.

This study recognizes the general stylistic impact of Perugino on the Jonas Nativity, but shifts focus by shedding light on how the painting likely fit into the culture of late fifteenth-century Umbrian patronage and workshop practices. In doing so, I show how the Jonas Nativity can be read as a product of a patronage system largely dominated by Umbriaís ruling families during the late fifteenth-century. While Peruginoís art affected the stylistic qualities of the Jonas Nativity, the market demands of Umbriaís ruling noble patrons greatly dictated the structure and output of workshops in which the Master of the Greenville probably worked.

My investigation intends to expand the critical inquiry of the Jonas Nativity and lay the groundwork for a methodological balance between the influence of Perugino and the cultural forces shaping Umbria's early modern images.