Artists Past and Present:
Maestro di Offida (1350 - 1360)
In the apse of the church of San Francesco in Montefiore a treasure awaits the visitor. Here you will find a cycle of large and beautiful frescoes painted by the mysterious ‘Maestro di Offida’ (the master from Offida). The paintings date from the mid-14th century (1350-1360) and have been beautifully restored over a period of 20 years from 1950 to 1970. In this work the artist seems to have reached the point of perfect balance of his cultural influences.
His style is one of courtly realism, and his main influence seems to have been the school of Giotto, and a rebellion against the rigidity of the Byzantine school. The style has become known as the Rimini school, and is typical of the region along the coast as far as Abruzzo.
It is thought that the Maestro worked with Allegretto Nuzi, or Andrea da Bologna, also of The Rimini school.
One of the ways his work can be identified is the unique style of painting the rays that emanate from the haloes of the saints.
The identity of the artist is something of a mystery…. He was probably a monk, and a suggestion has been made by the renowned art historian Stefano Papetti that his true identity is Fra’ Meliucci di Giovanni, though very little information can be gleaned about this individual.
There are several other outstanding works in the Marche which are also attributed to the same hand, particularly in Santa Maria della Rocca in Offida, where the frescoes which gave him is name are to be found. For example, in the church of San Pastore in Ripatransone here are two paintings representing the Deposizione and an Annunciazione. Also a picture, dated 1360-70 representing the Crowning of the Virgin, in the church of Santa Maria del Piano in Appignano del Tronto, Finally there is also a painting of the Madonna on the throne in the Parish Church of Mozzano.