Pietro Perugino was born in 1446 in CittÓ della Pieve, Umbria, Italy. His nickname characterizes him as from Perugia, the chief city of Umbria. By the age of nine, Pietro was articled to a master at Perugia.
Pietro painted at Arezzo, then moved to Florence. He apprenticed in the atelier of Andrea del Verrocchio alongside Leonardo da Vinci. He may have studied perspective from Piero della Francesca. In 1472 he must have completed his apprenticeship, as he was enrolled as a painter in the confraternity of St Luke.
Perugino was one of the earliest Italian practitioners of oil painting. He returned from Florence to Perugia, where his Florentine training showed in the Adoration of the Magi for the church of Santa Maria dei Servi. In 1480, he was called to Rome to fresco panels for the Sistine Chapel walls by Sixtus IV. Pinturicchio accompanied him to Rome, and was made his partner, receiving a third of the profits. The Sistine frescoes were the major high renaissance Patronage in Rome. Also the altar wall was painted but these works were later ruthlessly destroyed to make a space for Michelangelo 'Last Judgement'.
Perugino left Rome after completion of the Sistine Chapel work in 1486, and by autumn was in Florence. In July 1487 he was convicted, on his own confession, of having attacked someone with staves in the streets near Pietro Maggiore. Perugino merely intended assault and battery. He was fined ten gold florins.
Between 1486 and 1499 Perugino worked chiefly in Florence, making one journey to Rome and several to Perugia, where he may have maintained a second studio. He received a great number of commissions. In 1499 the guild of the cambio (money-changers or bankers) of Perugia asked him to decorate their audience-hall.
in 1501 Perugino was made one of the priors of Perugia. Michelangelo, twenty-five years of age in 1500 told Perugino to his face that he was a bungler in art. Perugino was determined to show what he could do, and he produced the masterpiece of the Madonna and Saints for the Certosa of Pavia, now disassembled and scattered among museums. This was succeeded in 1505 by an Assumption. The painting may have been executed chiefly by a pupil, and was at any rate a failure. It was much decried. Perugino lost his students and towards 1506 he once more and finally abandoned Florence, going to Perugia and Rome.
Pope Julius II had summoned Perugino for a painting in the Vatican City, but he soon preferred a younger competitor, Raphael, who had been trained by Perugino.
Pietro Perugino was still at Fontignano in 1524 when he died of the the plague. Like other plague victims, he was hastily buried in an unconsecrated field, the precise spot now unknown.