The town of Montone boasts a rich artistic heritage characterized by the sober architecture of the palaces and churches or the works of art housed inside the Church and the Convent of San Francesco. A monumental cloister leads to the interior of the Church, where fragments of frescoes dating back to the 14th and 16th centuries are stored and still visible on the walls.
The Madonna of Mercy Gonfalon by Bartolomeo Caporali and the Deposition wooden sculpture, dating from the 13th century are among the most valuable works which are exhibited in the picture gallery. The tour includes the visit to the Ethnographic Museum “Tamburo Parlante” (the speaking drum) collection curated by Enrico Castelli, an anthropologist of the University of Perugia who has been involved in studying the African cultures for about thirty years.
CHURCH OF SAN FRANCESCO
Founded around 1300, the church of San Francesco occupies the hill on which the houses of the Olivi and the Fortebracci once stood. Its typology is typical of the architecture of the Mendicant Orders: simple linear forms, single nave with polygonal apse, trussed roof. The surviving parts of the oldest frescoes, datable to the second half of the 14th century, suggest that immediately after the church was built, extensive decoration works were started. The most sublime results of the church’s decoration, however, date back to the following century, when the building became the family church of the Fortebracci, who contributed generously to its embellishment, providing it with altars, ornaments and paintings.
These include, in particular the fresco depicting the martyred Saint (maybe Valerie of Limoges) with an Angel which id the unique testimony in the central Italy of the French Saint.
Valuable wooden works are also present in the Church such as the Magistrate’s bench where the motifs of the inlay are inspired by the “grotesques” decoration, the wooden choir and the pulpit.
THE PICTURE GALLERY
The collection includes a group of paintings produced between the 16th and 17th centuries, coming from the Churches of Montone that were witnesses of the relationship between the town and the cities of Perugia and Città di Castello. The wooden Deposition is among the most important works. The four sculptures are all that remain of a group depicting the Deposition from the Cross which included Crucified Christ, Virgin, Saint John, Saint Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. The Annunciation and Saints Fidelis and Lazarus painted by Tommaso Bernabei known as Papacello from Cortona and by Vittorio Cirelli in 1532 reproduces some of the features of the late Raphaelesque culture in Umbria. The painting of the Saint Anthony of Padua with the Child is among the valuable paintings of the 17th century. It is close to the style of Andrea Polinori which is particularly influenced by the Roman painting between naturalism and classicism.
The history of Montone is essentially linked to the Fortebracci whose family’s lineage is illustrated by the two family trees.
There is a substantial collection of textiles, datable between the 15th and 19th century, characterized by various colors and materials and produced with different techniques and fanciful floral motifs. They include typologically various liturgical vestments and ornaments such as copes, velvet chasubles, broccatelle and damask, stole, maniples, tunics, surplices and amices, chalice veils, corporals, altar tablecloths, viaticum umbrellas, processional flags.