Christ Handing the Keys to St. Peter

Pietro Perugino

Pietro Perugino, Christ Handing the Keys to St. Peter, 1482. Sistine Chapel Gallery, Vatican City.

Pietro Perugino (circa 1446–1523) was an Italian artist active during the High Renaissance, a period of fantastic accomplishment in the visual arts. In 1480, Pope Sixtus IV commissioned Perugino to paint several murals for the Sistine Chapel. In this work, we see Jesus in flowing blue robes handing over the gold and silver keys to Peter, who is kneeling, hand on heart, while the other apostles look on. Look closely and you’ll see the halos surrounding their heads. The figures are painted with elegant, delicate features. The movement in the flowing drapery is mirrored in the long hair, beards, and tilting heads—giving energy and life to the composition.