Edmund Garratt Gardner.

The painters of the school of Ferrara online

. (page 1 of 15)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook











I •••

• • • I

• • • • a

••• • :» : •': •••

• ••• •• • •

.IikIi rsdii

Dos.so Doss I



liniullt SI' (JjllllTV






Published 1911

. . • • '• •

Printed bt



Tavistock Street Covent Garden








In the following pages I have attempted to give a brief
account of the famous school of painting that originated
in Ferrara about the middle of the fifteenth century,
and thence not only extended its influence to the
other cities that owned the sway of the House of Este,
but spread over all Emilia and Romagna, produced
Correcpcpio in Parma, and even shared in the makincr of
Raphael at Urbino. Correggio himself is not included :
he is too great a figure in Italian art to be treated as
merely the member of a local school ; and he has
already been the subject of a separate monograph in
this series.

The classical volumes of Girolamo Baruffaldi are still
indispensable to the student of the artistic history of
Ferrara. It was, however, Morelli who first revealed
the importance and significance of the Ferrarese school
in the evolution of Italian art ; and, although a few of
his conclusions and conjectures have to be abandoned
or modified in the light of later researches and dis-
coveries, his work must ever remain our starting-point.



The indefatigable researches of Signor Adolfo Ventiiri
have covered almost every phase of the subject, and it
would be impossible for any writer now treating of
Ferrarese painting to overstate the debt that he must
inevitablv owe to him. I am also much indebted to
the various writings of Campori and Cittadella ; to the
substantial work of M. Gustave Gruyer ; and, more
particularly, to the more recently published book of
Mr. Berenson on the North Italian Painters of the
Renaissance^ as also to his singularly suggestive charac-
terisation of Dosso Dossi in the first volume of the
Stiidy and Criticisni of Italian Art, For Francia, I
have derived much assistance from Dr. Williamson's
monograph. For many suggestions as to symbolism
and iconography, it is a pleasant duty to express my
gratitude to Mr. CarmichaePs admirable essay in inter-
pretation, entitled FranMs Masterpiece.

No explanation or apology is now needed for including
Francia and his Bolognese followers in a volume on the
Ferrarese painters. The masters of Bologna, at the
end of the fifteenth and the beginning of the sixteenth
century, drew the principles of their art from Ferrara,
and hardly formed an independent school — though their
first and greatest master is probably better known and
more loved by the general public than any genuinely
Ferrarese artist. The true Bolognese school — the
eclectic, coldly academic school of the Carracci — belongs


to a later epoch. We may, to some extent, connect
this with the political vicissitudes that Ferrara and
Bologna underwent. While the Bentivogli were the
practical rulers of the State, Bologna, though nominally
subject to the Holy See, was overshadowed by the
dynastic influence and interests of the Estensian sove-
reigns of Ferrara. But the Bentivocjli fell in Francia's
lifetime ; the Ferrarese duchy was incorporated into the
Papal States some ninety years later ; and Bologna then
became a place of considerably more importance, socially
and politically, than Ferrara. By the beginning of the
seventeenth century, the artistic relations of the two
cities are reversed : Carlo Bononi, the last of the
painters of the Ferrarese school, sits at the feet of the
Carracci, and Guercino, born at Cento (one of the towns
ceded to the Duke of Ferrara by Pope Alexander VI),
ranks as an artist among the Bolognese.

E. G. G.



I. Early Masters of Ferrara and Modena 1

II. CosiMO Tura 16

III. Francesco del Cossa : The Frescoes of the


IV. Baldassare d'Este : Ercole de' Roberti :

Marco Zoppo : Francesco Bianchi : Do-


V. Lorenzo Costa and Francesco Raibolini : I. 69

VI. Lorenzo Costa and Francesco Raibolini : II. 97

VII. TiMOTEO ViTi and other Painters of the

Early Cinquecento 119

VIII. Dosso and Battista Dossi 143

IX. Garofalo : Ortolano : Girolamo da Carpi l69

X. Later Painters of the School of Ferrara

AND Bologna 192

List of More Important Works of Painters of the

School of Ferrara and Bologna 203

Bibliography 253

Index 259




Dosso Dossi. Circe. Borghese Gallery. Frontispiece

Cosimo Tura, Madonna and Child. National Gallery 18
Cosimo Tura. Roverella and his Patron Saints.

Palazzo Colonna 26

Cosimo Tura. Adoration of the Magi. Cambridge^

U.S.A. 28

School of Tura. Charity. Poldi Pezzoli Museinn 30

Francesco del Cossa. Detail from the Schifanoia

Frescoes. Ferrara 36

Francesco del Cossa. Madonna and Child (with

Alberto Catanei). Gallery, Bologna 44

Baldassare d'Este. Death of the Blessed Virgin.

Massari Collection, Ferrara 48

Ercole Roberti. "Medea." Cook Collection, Richmond 52
Ercole Roberti. Deposition from the Cross. Blumen-

slihl Collection, Rome 54

Ercole Roberti. The Concert. Naiional Gallery 58

Marco Zoppo. Madonna and Child. Cook Collection,

Richmond 62




Francesco Bianchi. The Annunciation. Galkiia

Estense 64

Francesco Bianchi. Cupid and Psyche. Hertford

House iS6

Domenico Panetti. Madonna and Child. Galieiia

Estense 68

Lorenzo Costa. The Ghedini Altarpiece. San Giovanni

in Monte, Bologna 74

Francesco Francia. St. George. Galleria Corsini 80

Francesco Francia. Portrait of Bartolommeo

Bianchini. Natio?ial Gallery 82

Francesco Francia. The Nativity (with Anton Galeazzo

Bentivoglio and Girolamo Casio). Gallery^ Bologna S6
Francesco Francia. The Bentivoglio Altarpiece. San

Giacomo Maggiore, Bologna 90

Lorenzo Costa. Triumph of Poetry. Louvre 9^

Francesco Francia. Portrait of Evangelista Scappi.

Uffizi 102

Lorenzo Costa. Portrait of Battista Fiera. National

Gallery 112

Attributed to Timoteo Viti. Eurydice and Aristaius

(majolica plate). Museo Civico, Venice 122

Timoteo Viti. St. Mary Magdalene. Gallery, Bologna 124
Ercole Grandi. Portrait of a Ciirl. Campidoglioy

Rome 1 32

Pellegrino Munari. Madonna and Child. Gallery,

Eerrara 134



Dosso Dossi. Nymph and Satyr, Pitti 146

Dosso Dossi. Tlie Jester. Galleria Kstense 150
Dosso Dossi. Matlonna and Child with St. George

and St. Michael. Galleiia Estense 154

Battista Dossi. The Nativity. Galleria Estense l60

Battista Dossi. The Dream. Dresden l66
Benvenuto Garofalo. Head of the Madonna ('^ La

Madonna del Pilastro "). Gallery, Ferrara 170
Benvenuto Garofalo. ^^ Our Lady of Sorrow." Dresden 176
Ben\enuto Garofalo. Mars and Venus. Dresden 180
Ortolano. Adoration of the Shepherds. Davis Col-
lection, Newport, U.S.A. 182
Ortolano. Deposition from the Cross. Borghese

Gallery 1 86




The Ferrarese school of painting arose shortly after
the middle of the fifteenth century, when that mildest
and most genial of Renaissance despots, Borso d'Este,
was ruling Ferrara as vicar of the Church with the
title of INIarquis, and Modena, together with Reggio,
as Duke under the Holy Roman Empire.

A document, professedly of 1242, first cited by
Borsetti, but apparently seen by no one since, declares
that in that year a Ferrarese painter named Gelasio
di Niccolo, who had studied under a Greek master in
Venice, painted the Fall of Phaethon for Azzo Novello,
the third Marquis of Este who held sway in Ferrara
and a Madonna and Child at the bidding of the bishop
of the city, I'ilippo Fontana, as also a banner bearing
the figure of Saint George to head the procession that
went forth to meet the Doge of Venice, Jacopo Tiepolo.^

I liistoria aluu Perrarice Gyni/tasU (Ferrara, 1735), ii. pp. -iifi, 447.
Of. TiraLosclii, Storla ddia LetUratura Italiana, iv. pp. 733-736 (Milau,
1823) ; Baruffaldi, Vite de'Pitlori e ScuHori Ftrrarefi, i. pp. 6-8.


«r «


This is clearly no more than a pious fiction,
intended to connect Ferrarese art from the outset
with both the mythological and religious traditions
of the people. The Madonna still attributed to
Gelasio, in the Pinacoteca Comunale of Ferrara, is
some two centuries later in origin. Vasari tells us
that, when Giotto was returning to Tuscany from
,_^ Verona, " he was constrained to stop in Ferrara, and

to paint in the service of those Estensian lords, in
their palace and in Sanf Agostino, certain things that
are still seen there to-day/"*^ This must have been
after July, 1S17, when Rinaldo d'Este and his
brothers were restored to Ferrara after the prolonged
struggle with the Holy See, and before the death of
Dante, in September, 1321, if Vasari is right in his
assertion that it was through the poet that Giotto
was summoned thence to Ravenna. No trace of
Giotto's work in Ferrara remains, and he seems to
have had no infiuence upon the local painters. There
is no reason for supposing that the frescoes at the
abbey of Pomposa, " la casa di Nostra Donna in sul lito
Adriano," ^ are by Ferrarese artists ; and indeed, during
the whole Giottesque period, the painters of Ferrara
were few in number and of slight importance. A
Madonna lattante by an unknown hand in San

1 Vite, ed. Milanesi, I. p. 388.
« Dante, Par. xxi. 132, 123.


Domenico ; a figure of St. Anthony of Padua, attri-
buted to Fra Donato Brasavola (a Franciscan friar
who died in 1353), in San Francesco; the repainted
fresco of the Madonna and Child, traditionally
attributed to Laudadio Rambaldo, in the courtyard
of the Castcllo Vecchio, and remains of frescoes in
Sant' Andrea : these are the only notable paintings
of the fourteenth century that survive in Ferrara

Modena during the Trecento produced two painters
of a higher order, a certain number of whose works
are still extant : Tommaso Barisendi and Barnaba
Agocchiari ; who, from the circumstance of their
painting elsewhere than in their native city, were
known as Tommaso da Modena and Barnaba da
Modena, respectively.

Tommaso da Modena has of late become recognised
as one of the most important North Italian masters
of the fourteenth century.^ He was born at Modena,
in 1325 or 1326, and died in 1379. His father,
Barisino de** Barisini, was a painter of some local
reputation, and the son, who usually signs himself
Thomas de Miit'ma, in one instance adds Barisini filius.
Tommaso worked chiefly at Treviso, and in the castle

1 Julius von Schlosser, Tomoiaso da Modena unci die dltere Malerd
in Treviso, Vienna, 1898 ; Giulio Bertoni and E. P. Vicini, Tonir>uao
da Modena pittore modmnt del sfcolo XIV, Modena, 1904 ; Adolfo
Venturi, Storia deWArte Itah'ana. V. pp. 958-077.


of Karlstein, near Prague, where he was employed by
the Emperor Charles IV. His easel-pictures, such as
the small polyptych at Modena (with its forged date
and signature), and the Madonna and Child with
St. Dalmatius and St. Wenceslaus (recently restored
from Vienna to Karlstein) which he painted for the
Emperor, show a certain affinity with the Bolognese
miniature painters and with the early Sienese.^
In his frescoes he appears as a more original artist.
The earliest and most interesting of these are a
remarkable series in the chapter-house of San Niccolo at
Treviso, commissioned by the Dominican prior of that
Convent in 1352. They invite comparison with the
frescoes of the so-called Cappella degli Spagnuoli, the
former chapter-house of Santa Maria Novella at
Florence, executed almost at the same time ; for in
both cases, at an epoch when the order of Friars
Preachers had sunk into a deplorable state of
degeneration, its local rulers were thus exalting the
Dominican ideal with all the resources of art.^
Tommaso's task was a simpler one than that of his
Florentine contemporaries ; but the result is hardly
less impressive. All round the spacious hall, sur-
rounding an older fresco of the Crucifixion, are the

1 Venturi, op. clt., V. p. 931.

2 For lUc state of the Domiuicans after the pestilence of 134S,
v.f, Movtier, Histoire des MaUres O^iiraux dc J'Ordre des Frirei
Pricheurt, 111. (Paris, 1907), pp. 289-319.


luminaries of the Dominican order, forty in number :
Saints, Popes, Cardinals, INIasters of Tlieology, Doctors,
and Preachers ; each at work in his cell, drawing
inspiration from the solemn scene up to which the
whole composition leads. Many of the figures, such
as those of St. Benedict XI, Albertus Magnus, and
John of Vicenza, are admirably characterised ; but
the claim made for them, that they are in any sense
authentic portraits, can hardly be sustained.^ A
little later, Tommaso decorated the columns of the
adjoining church with votive frescoes of the Blessed
Virgin and other figures, partly allegorical, partly of
saints, among which the stately figures of St. Jerome
and St. Romualdus, and a curiously unconventional
representation of the mystical marriage of St. Agnes,
are especially conspicuous. Another series of frescoes
from his hand, formerly in Santa Margherita in the
same city, depicting the legend of St. Ursula, in which
he appears as the precursor of Carpaccio, is now in the
Museo Civico. In all these frescoes, we notice his
rather eccentric types, with their accentuated features,
thick lips, and staring eyes, as also a straining after
realism and a certain tendency to humour in the
episodes.* Without the high qualities of his Tuscan
contemporaries, Tommaso da Modena is an original

1 Cf. Giovanni Milanese, La Chiesa monumentale di San Nicold in
Trevito, Treviso, 1004, pp. 69-75. 2 Venturi, op. cit, V. p. 972.


and interesting master, with a strongly marked

Barnaba da IModena, a younger contemporary of
TommasOj was the son of a certain Ottonello di Barnaba
da Milano, who came of a Milanese family which had
settled in Modena, where they later ac(iuired or assumed
the surname of Agocchiari, probably from the occupa-
tion by which they lived.^ Before 1367, Barnaba
migrated to Genoa, where he painted in the chapel of
the Doge's palace ; a little later, he was painting in
Turin ; and, in 1380, he was summoned from Genoa
to Pisa, to work in the Campo Santo. His extant
pictures, which are signed Barnabas de Mutina, are all
altarpieces or votive pictures, brilliantly coloured and
touched up with gold ; his Madonnas have much of the
grace and charm of the early Sienese. Their dates
range from 1367 to 1377. He was still in Genoa in
November, 1383, after which we hear no more of

Two other Modenese painters of this epoch are now
only known each by a single work. Fra Paolo da
Modena is the author of the Madonna deirUmiltd (a
favourite subject for Dominican convents) : Our Lady
seated on the ground and giving suck to the Divine
Child, before whom a friar kneels in adoration. This

1 See Bcrtoni and Viciui, Barnaba da Modena, in the Jlaasegna
d'ArU, Milan, August, 1903.


picture, now in the Galleria Estense at Modcna, is
signed and dated 1370; but it has been completely
repainted, and may conceivably be simply a rifactviento
of an earlier work/ A large polyp tych in the Duomo
of Modena, of which the central panel represents the
Coronation of the Blessed Virgin with two donors, is
inscribed: Seraphhius dc Seraph'mis pinxit 1384 dit
ioins xxiii marcii. It is a rather dull picture, without
any distinction or individuality. There is documentary
evidence of the activity of Serafino Serafini from 1348
to 1387, in which latter year he probably died.^ He
also worked at Ferrara, where, in 1373, he decorated a
chapel in San Domenico ; but, with the solitary ex-
ception of the picture at Modena, nothing from his
hand is extant.

At the end of the fourteenth and beginning of the
fifteenth century, we find a Cristoforo da Ferrara, who
is said by Vasari to ha^e worked in the church of
Mezzaratta at Bologna ; there are three small pictures
attributed to him, one of which is signed, in the gallery
at Ferrara. He appears as a primitive, utterly insig-
nificant painter, who was probably a pupil of one of
the Bolognese artists of the Trecento.

The earliest Ferrarese master whose works survive in
"xny appreciable quantity is Antonio Alberti, who signs

1 Cf. Venturi, op. cit., V. p. 957.

* See Bertoni and Vicini, Serafino Serajtiii pittore modenete dtJ
t€9olo XIV, in L'AHe, Rome, 1904.


himself Antonius de Ferraria. He is described by
Vasari as a pupil of Agnolo Gaddi (which is chrono-
logically impossible), and " an excellent painter of his
time " (^assai biion pittore del tempo suo).^ All Antonio's
dated works belong to the thirties of the fifteenth
century, the earliest being a fresco of the Madonna and
Child, dated 1433, in the chapel of the nuns of Sanf
Antonio in Polesine at Ferrara. A series of frescoes
from his hand, signed and dated 1437, representing
the Annunciation, Visitation, Adoration of the Magi,
with various Saints, has been discovered at Talamello,
a small place in the province of Urbino and Pesaro.^
In the pinacoteca of Urbino, there is an altarpiece by
him from the church of San Bernardino, signed and
dated 1439 ; in the central panel Our Lady sits in a
garden with the sleeping Child on her knees ; above is
the Resurrection, while in separate panels, with gold
backgrounds, are figures of Saints, among which those of
the Baptist and St. Louis are rendered witli some
individuality. M. Thode notes that in Antonio's work
we find the influence of Gentile da Fabriano, combined

1 I. p. 641, IV. p. 492. Vasari probably confused him with an
earlier Allerto Alberti, who painted a picture for the Duomo of
Ferrara in 1397. Cf. Venluri, I primordi del rinascimento artistico
I Ferrara, p. 598 ; Gruyer, VArt fcrrarais a V^poqtie des Princes
d'Este, II. p. 5.

2 Cf. M. Henry Tliode, in Archivio Storieo dell" Arte, I. (1888),
p. 189. The attention of students was first drawn to these frescoe^
by Signer Pina in Artee Storia (Florence), October, 1886.


with a foretaste of the harshness and vigour that is
characteristic of the later Ferrarese painters. It is
stated that, some time between 1438 and 1441, the
Marquis Niccolo III. commissioned Antonio to decorate
the palace known as the Paradiso (the present seat of
the University of Ferrara) with frescoes representing
Christ in Paradise and the assembling of the Council of
Ferrara in 1438.^ This is altogether doubtful, and,
in any case, these decorations have entirely disappeared.
In a room on the ground-floor we may see the remains
of a fascinating fresco, either an allegory or a scene from
some Carolingian or Arthurian romance, depicting the
siege of a tower, from the battlements of which a woman
in red, apparently a prisoner, is leaning ; but there are
no grounds for assigning this work to Antonio. The
painter seems to have passed most of his life at Urbino,
where he was still living in 1464, when he gave his
daughter Calliope in marriage to a certain Bartolommeo
Viti, or della Vite, of that city, by whom she became the
mother of a more famous artist, Timoteo Viti.^ Crowe
and Cavalcaselle, followed by M. Gustave Gruyer and
others, have attributed to Antonio da FeiTara the
frescoes of the Cappella Bolognini in San Petronio at
Bologna (which Vasari says were begun by Buonamico
Buffalmacco) ; but, with M. Thode, I find it impossible

1 P.aruffaldi, 1. p. 6h

2 Vasari, IV. p. 492 ; Gruyer, II. pp. 10-12.


to accept these as his work.^ A curious httle picture
of the death of St. Catherine of Siena is erroneously
attributed to him in the pinacoteca of Ferrara.

In the latter part of Niccolo's reign, and throughout
the short reign of Leonello, many foreign masters
found employment at Ferrara. Conspicuous among
them were Pisanello of Verona, who was constantly in
the citv between 1427 and 1447. and was on intimate
terms with Leonello himself and his half-brother,
Meliaduse d'Este ; Jacopo Bellini, who, in 1441,
painted a portrait of Leonello in friendly competition
with the profile (now in the Morelli collection at
Bergamo) by Pisanello ; the then youthful Andrea
Mantegna, who seems to have come to Ferrara in
1449 ; and Roger van der Weyden, by whom Leonello
possessed a picture of Adam and Eve, and another
representing the Deposition from the Cross, which he
showed with great pride to the humanist and traveller,
Ciriaco of Ancona, to whom they seemed " painted by
divine rather than by human art." ^ A certain
Angelo Macagnini da Siena became Leonello's official

1 The will of Bartolommeo della Seta, of the Eolognini family,
executed in 1408, orders the chapel to be finished and painted, and
prescribes the subjects of the frescoes as we now see them. (Milanesi's
note in Vasari, I. p. 507.) This points to the employment of an
earlier painter than Antonio, as such commissions were carried out
promptly in the Quattrocento.

2 Cf. Campori, 1 pittori degli UsteJisi, pp. 535-554 ; and my Dukea
and Poets in Ferrara, pp. 51-5G.


court painter in 1447, and held the same position
under Borso until 1456. By the latter he was in-
vested with a fief, with the obligation of presenting
every year as tribute a rose or a lily painted on parch-
ment or panel.^ None of Angelo's works can now be
identified, nor anv trace of Sienese uifluence be dis-
cerncd in the productions of the subsequent Ferrarese
school. In 1451, the year after Borso's accession,
Piero de' Franceschi was invited to Ferrara, where he
decorated several rooms in the palace and a chapel in
Sant' Agostino with frescoes, all of which have perished."
His influence, together with that of Pisanello and that
of the famous school founded by Squarcione at Padua,
was highly important in the development of Ferrarese

The two most notable precursors of the true
Ferrarese school — Giovanni da Oriolo and Bono da
Ferrara — are both direct imitators of Pisanello. The
former seems not to have been a Ferrarese, but to
have come from Oriolo, a small place near Faenza ; his
family name is said to have been Calegari. A
portrait of Elisabetta and Barbara, the daughters of
Astorre II. Manfredi, lord of Faenza, which he
painted about 1449, was highly praised by a local

1 Ventuli, 1 prirnordi, pp. 609, 610.

2 The palace in question -was not the Schifanoia, as frequently
stated, but the Corte Veccliia, the present Palazzo Municipale, which
>ffti rebuilt by Ercole I. in U79 and 1480.


poetaster. In 1461, he was still living and working
at Faenza, where he is styled M agister Johannes de
Oriolo pktor puhlwus} His admirable portrait of
Leonello, in the National Gallery, signed Opns
Johannis Orioli, was, perhaps, painted with the aid
of the medal by Pisanello, and invites comparison
with the latter''s picture of the Marquis, with its back-
ground of wild roses, at Bergamo.^ Bono, in his
finely coloured and carefully executed St. Jerome
in the National Gallery, signs himself a pupil of
Pisanello, Pisani discipulus} In the early fifties of the
century, after working for Borso, he entered the school
of Squarcione at Padua, where, in collaboration with
Mantegna and the others, he painted, in the church of
the Eremitani, the fresco of St. Christopher bearing
the Divine Child across the stream — a work inferior
to the rest of the cycle.

A greater master was needed to give the Ferrarese
school independent life, and, by fusing the character-
istics of the native Ferrarese genius with the artistic
impulses coming from without, to start it on the lines
that it was to follow in order to rank among the great

1 Cf. F. Argnani, Sul inttore Giovanni da Oriolo, Faenza, 1899.
Several pictures are attributed to him in the gallery at Faenza,

2 C/. G. F. Hill, Pisanello, p. 152.

3 Cf. G. F. Hill, op. cit., p. 91, where it is suggested that Bono

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15