Niccolò Circignani (Biographical details)

Niccolò Circignani (painter/draughtsman; Italian; Male; c.1598)

Also known as

Circignani, Niccolò; Circignano, Niccolò; Pomarancio, Niccolò


Painter. Niccolò Circignani, called 'II Pomarancio', b. Pomarance (S. Tuscany), earliest record of activity 1564, d. Città della Pieve, c. 1598. The date of his birth is not recorded. That of his death is established by two documents, one dated 4 Nov. 1597 and the other 23 March 1599, respectively referring to him as alive and dead (Canuti, p. 224). Baglione's statement that he d. aged 72 in the pontificate of Sixtus V (1585-90), which implies a birth-date c. 1513-18, is thus in part demonstrably incorrect. On the other hand, if Baglione is right about the age at which he died, a death-date c. 1598 would mean he was born c. 1526, and even this is difficult to reconcile with the reference to him in Vasari's 1568 ed. (vii, p. 578), apropos of a painting recently commissioned for Orvieto (see below), as "pittore giovane". In the same passage Vasari refers to Nebbia, b. probably c. 1536, as "giovane", so it seems reasonable to assume that C. was roughly the same age.
The circumstances of C's training are not known, but in his earliest recorded work, the scenes from the history of Nebuchadnezzar in the Vatican Belvedere (Museo Etrusco, Sala III), he collaborated with Santi di Tito (final payment 4 March 1564, in which he is referred to as "maestro", Ackerman, p. 179, doc. 158), see G. Arnolds, 'Santi di Tito', Arezzo, 1934, pls. iii and iv. Preparatory study for former in Codice Resta in Ambrosiana, ed. G. Bora, 1976, no. 75, pointed out by Lawrence Turčič.
22 Dec. 1564, at Orvieto, he entered into partnership for one year with Hendrick van den Broeck of Malines (Arrigo Fiammingo), and contracted on 15 Aug. 1565 and 12 June 1566 (Canuti, pp. 198-9) to decorate the 3rd and 2nd chapels on l. in the Cathedral (decorations destroyed, see Nebbia biography), and on 22 Nov. 1565 to paint for the former an altarpiece of 'The Pool of Bethesda', now in Museo dell'Opera del Duomo, mistakenly described by Vasari (vii, p. 578) as 'The Raising of Lazarus'. Living in Città della Pieve c. 1566-79 (Canuti, pp. 199ff): works by him there (1579) and in the district (e.g. Perugia, 1568; Mongiovino di Panicale, 1569; Citerna, 1570; Città di Castello, 1570 and 1577; Umbertide, 1572 and 1577).
According to Baglione he worked in Rome, in the Vatican, in the Galleria delle Carte Geografiche [vault] and Logge of Gregory XIII. Hess claims to recognise his hand in the second- and third-floor 'Logge' (reprs. 'Studien', ii, pp. 71, 74). The second-floor loggia decorated 1575-7 (see Raffaellino da Reggio biography).
C. presumably settled in Rome c. 1580. Entrance fee to Accademia di S. Luca paid 8 Oct. 1581 (Baumgart). Frescoes in Sala della Meridiana in Torre dei Venti in Vatican, including 'Christ stilling the Tempest', 'Shipwreck of St Paul' (reprs. 'Illustrazione Vaticana', ix (1938), 10, pp. 403ff) completed by end of Jan. 1581 (Vaes, 'Bulletin de l'Institut historique belge de Rome', viii (1928), p. 316, n. 1; J Ackerman, pp. I05f), and vault of Galleria, being decorated c. 1580 (see 1947,0412.151). Kirwin ('Paragone', p. 55, n. 75) mentions a study for Torre dei Venti at Haarlem (K II 62); another, for 'Paul in Malta', in Keith Andrews Coll., Edinburgh.
Martyrdom cycles for Jesuits: S. Stefano Rotondo, 1582 (Baglione, p. 44; see Banfi, Capitolium, xxviii (1953), p. 296) and S. Tommaso di Canterbury, formerly S. Trinità degli Inglesi, 1583-4 (see 1956,0512.2). S. Apollinare,"historie di quelsanto" (Baglione), destroyed. S. Antonio Abate, chapel of St Anthony, under construction 1583: other paintings in the church incorporate arms of Sixtus V (1585-90); only frescoes in drum surviving (see R. Enking, 'S. Andrea Cata Barbara e S. Antonio Abbate sull'Esquilino', Rome, 1964, pp. 74f., fig. 21). Gesù, 1st chapel on l. (after 1585, see 1965,1009.2; Hibbard, 'Gesù', pls. 18b, 20) and 2nd chapel on l. (ibid., pls. 22, 24-5). Not earlier than 1582, frescoes in Oratorio del Crocifisso (see 1946,0713.233). S. M. di Loreto, chapel of the Magi, 2nd on right, documented 1585 according to Benedetti ('S. Maria di Loreto', Rome, 1968, pp. 114ff., figs. 22-3). S. Pudenziana, cupola, 1588 (Forcella, xi, p. 138, nos. 263-4; Montini, 'Santa Pudenziana', Rome, n.d., fig. 20). SS. Giovanni e Paolo, apse decoration, inscription dated 1587 (Forcella, x, p. 7, no. 9). S. Giovanni dei Fiorentini, Chapel of St Francis, 5th on l., after 1592 (see Siebenhüner, 'Kunstgeschichtliche Stüdien für Hans Kauffmann', Berlin, 1956, pp. 172ff.); drawings, Madrid, Academia de San Fernando (repr. Gere, 'Manierismo', pl. XXXV) and Stockholm (232, as Marco Pino). S. Croce in Gerusalemme, Chapel of S. Elena, completed 1593 (Forcella, viii, p. 193, no. 515; 'Restauri', 1969, pl. 16).
1589, painted, with help of Antonio Circignani (q.v.) and others, in the Abbazia di Valviscida, near Sermoneta, chapel of S. Lorenzo and side walls of cappella maggiore (s. and d. 'graffito' inscription repr. C. d'Onofrio and C. Pietrangeli, 'Le Abbazie del Lazio', Rome, 1971, fig. 347). Two drawings by C. at Christ Church (Byam Shaw cat. nos. 172 and 176), part of a series of twelve (originally thirteen), are for frescoes of history of Della Corgna family at Castiglione del Lago (G.F.N.E. 1791).
Works in Volterra s. and d. 1590 and 1591; 4 Feb. 1594 documented in Città della Pieve, where he apparently remained until his death (see Canuti, pp. 217f., 220).


Gere & Pouncey 1983 (whence bibliography and biography below)
F. Baumgart in Thieme-Becker (1933), with previous bibliography; F. Canuti, 'Nicolò Circignani detto "Il Pomarancio" ' in Bollettino della Deputazione dì Storia Patria per l'Umbria, xlix, (1952), pp. 184ff.; H. Röttgen, 'Zeitgeschichtliche Bildprogramme der Katholischen Restauration unter Gregor XIII', Munich Jahrbuch, 3, xxvi (1975), pp. 89ff; T. Buser, 'Jerome Nadal and Early Jesuit Art in Rome', Art Bulletin, lviii (1976), pp. 424ff.; C. Kirwin, 'The Life and Drawing Style of Cristofano Roncalli', Paragone, 335 (1978), pp. 54f.