Edmund Garratt Gardner.

The painters of the school of Ferrara online

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There has come down to us a group of Ferrarese
pictures, belonging to the first quarter of the sixteenth
century, which suggest a master proceeding directly or

1 Vasari, VI. pp. 468, 4C9.



C: y.



indirectly from the school of Lorenzo Costa, who
was influenced slightly by Mazzolino, and who finally
takes a place intermediate between Dosso and Garofalo.
He recalls Dosso in the brilliant and jewel-like
colouring of his best works, while at times resembling
Garofalo in his types ; less imaginative and more
formal than Dosso, he is more expressive and far less
conventional and stereotyped than Garofalo, with
whom, on the whole, he shows greater affinity. These
pictures are, somewhat hypothetically, ascribed to
Giovanni Battista Benvenuti, known as TOrtolano,
probably because his father was a market-gardener.

Baruffaldi represents Giovanni Battista Benvenuti as
the nephew of the famous architect of the Estensi,
Pietro di Benvenuto. He speaks of a book of sketches
made by the painter from the works of Raphael and
Bagnacavallo, and of a letter written by him from
Bologna to his uncle, both of which are manifestly
spurious. According to his story, Ortolano first
worked at Bologna, where, in consequence of a quarrel
with the local painters, he killed one of them in the
street ; through the offices of Pietro di Benvenuto and
the intercession of the Duke of Ferrara, he was released
from prison, and thereafter resided at Ferrara under
the protection of the House of Este.^ All this,
however, is probably unhistorical ; and the alleged

I Baruffaldi, T. pp. 165-171.


relationship with Pietro di Benvenuto is due, as
Cittadella first showed, to a confusion between the
painter and one Giovanni Battista di Benvenuto, a
builder who was working on the campanile of the
Duomo in Ferrara in the second half of the fifteenth
century, and who appears to have been a brother of
the architect.^ Laderchi first questioned the existence
of any such painter as Giovanni Battista Benvenuti
or Ortolano (who, for the rest, is not mentioned by
Vasari), and his doubts were emphasised by Morelli,
who suggested that the works attributed to him are,
in reality, early and excellent paintings of Garofalo.^
There is, however, documentary evidence of a painter,
*^ Magister Joannes Baptista filius quondam Francisci
de Benvenuto," who was over twenty-five years of age
in 1512, and who is mentioned in Ferrarese documents
of 1520 and 1524. Also, among the records of
expenses of the ducal household, an allusion has been
found to a Madonna by " Ortolano *" in the private
chapel of the Estensi, which was restored by Sebastiano
Filippi in 1588.^ It does not follow that this
Giovanni Battista Benvenuti and Ortolano are one and
the same, nor that either was certainly the painter of
the works under consideration, though the dates of the

1 Documenti ed illustrazionl, pp. 48-51.

2 La Pittura Ferrarese, pp. 94, 95 ; Italian Painters. I. pp.

a Cittadella, op. cit., p. 49.


documents concerning; Benvenuti make it at least a
plausible hypothesis ; but, in any case, we have to
deal with a distinct artistic personality, the identifica-
tion of whom with Garofalo, at any stage of the
latter's career, is no longer accepted by any student
of the Ferrarese school.^ He died after 1528.

It is just possible that the rather feeble Annuncia-
tion, wrongfully attributed to Dosso Dossi, in the
pinacoteca at Ferrara, may be a very early Ortolano.
More certainly among his earlier works are the Adora-
tion of the Shepherds, formerly in the Borghese
Gallery, and the Nativity, with St. Francis, St. Mary
Magdalene, and the little St. John, in the Palazzo
Doria. These seem to show the influence of Mazzolino ;
but the peculiar landscape, with its little town, and
curiously shaped hills rising up into tooth-shaped
promontories, are characteristic of Ortolano himself
and occur likewise in his later works.

The masterpiece of this painter, and, indeed, one of
the most beautiful Ferrarese pictures of the sixteenth
century, is the St. Sebastian with St. Roch and
St. Demetrius, painted for the parish church of
Bondeno, and now in the National Gallery. Baruffaldi
well calls it "la reina delle opere sue."*"'^ The noble

1 See especially Venturi, in Arch. Stor. dell'Arte, VII. (1894), pp. 9G
et teq, and the introduction to the Burlington Fine Ari» Club
Exhibition. 2 I. p. 179.


figures of St. Sebastian and St. Demetrius are creations
of a high order, and it is delightful to wander with
the eye through the alluring landscape, in which a
party of travellers are watering their horses outside a
little mountain village. Almost equally fine is the
Deposition from the Cross in the Villa Borghese,
with St. Christopher fording a river with the Divine
Child in the background, and the donor kneeling on
the right. These two pictures, which in their brilliant
colouring (especially in the Borghese example) have
a close affinity with Dosso, represent the painter at
the height of his powers. Signor Venturi notes as
characteristic of Ortolan o that his colours are usually
pale in the background, but gradually revive, and
acquire a jewel-like splendour in the reds and greens,
and that his trees have large and sparse leaves tending
to yellow. He calls attention to the way in which the
houses are planted on stakes in the National Gallery
picture, as also in the background of the half-length
figure of St. Anthony of Padua in the Visconti-Venosta

Apparently a late work of Ortolano is the powerful
and impressive Picta in San Pietro at Modena, in
which the Blessed Virgin is standing alone over the
body of the Saviour, appealing to all the world :
" O vos omnes, qui transitis per viam, attendite et

I Loc. cit.



Horjfhese Gallery

Tofm-c jHtyc 186


videte, si est dolor sicut dolor meus." ^ The colouring
and landscape of the predella, two scenes from the
legend of St. Sebastian, again recall Dosso. A
beautiful example of Ortolano's work, on a smaller
scale, is the little St. Sebastian, formerly ascribed to
Garofalo, at Naples.

None of the pictures universally accepted as by
Ortolano are signed or dated. BarufFaldi ascribes to
him the picture of the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph
adoring the Divine Child, dated 1513, from San
Francesco, in the pinacoteca of Ferrara, in which
the Madonna somewhat recalls Costa. This picture
is generally taken as an early Garofalo. The same
historian of Ferrarese art cites as Ortolano's Lord
Wimborne's great altarpiece of the Quattro Incoronati,
painted in 1520, for San Niccolo at Ferrara; which,
as we have seen, is tentatively assigned by Signor
Venturi to Niccolo Pisano. There remains the altar-
piece, dated 1523, in the Palazzo Chigi, representing
St. Anthony Abbot between St. Cecilia and St. Anthony
of Padua, which is traditionally attributed to Garofalo.
Signor Venturi has shown a good case for regarding
it as a work of Ortolano. The figure of St. Cecilia,
freely adopted from Raphael's picture at Bologna, is yet
another instance of a Roman motive rendered into the
more richly coloured artistic language of Ferrara.
^ LaiueutatioQS, I. 12 (Vulgate).


The only one of Garofalo's pupils who made a name
for himself was Girolamo Sellari, better known as
Girolamo da Carpi. He was born at Ferrara in 1501,
the son of a painter of Carpi named Tommaso, who
had settled in Ferrara and was much employed in
minor decorative work by the court. After studying
under his father and then under Garofalo, Girolamo
went to Bologna, where he acquired a reputation as a
portrait painter, was inspired by the study of Raphael's
St. Cecilia, and finally so impressed by the sight of a
picture by Correggio that he went to Modena and
thence to Parma, to copy the latter's works. " All
these particulars,"" says Vasari, " I learned from Girolamo
himself, who was very friendly with me in the year
1550 at Rome; and he often lamented with me that
he had consumed his youth and his best years at
Ferrara and Bologna, instead of Rome, or some other
place, where he would doubtless have succeeded much
better.'' ^

Mr. Berenson has recognised as an early work of
Girolamo da Carpi the brilliantly coloured little
Madonna and Child surrounded with angel musicians,
now ascribed to Ortolano, as formerly to Dosso, in the
gallery at Bologna. Also an early work, somewhat
Raphaelesque and dated 1530, is the Adoration of
the Magi in San Martino in the same city : a finely

1 VI. p 472.


coloured and well composed picture, but with rather
commonplace types with awkward and nerveless hands.
His Mystical Marriage of St. Catherine of Alex-
andria, damaged and darkened, but highly praised by
Baruffaldi, is in San Salvatore. For a short time at
Bologna, Girolamo entered, much to his disadvantage,
into a partnership with Biagio Pupini, a mediocre
painter who had been a pupil of Francia.

According to Vasari, Girolamo was first brought to
the notice of the Ferrarese court by Titian. He
appears to have entered the service of the Estensi in
the thirties of the century, after the accession of
Ercole H. He worked with Garofalo and the two
Dossi in the Duke's palaces of Copparo and Belriguardo,
and in the former place painted the sixteen rulers
of Ferrara, from the Marquis Azzo VI. to Duke
Ercole IL, in a loggia : a work enthusiastically praised
by Ariosto's disciple, the poet and novelist Giovan
Battista Giraldi,^ but of which no traces now remain.
He seems to have assisted in the execution of Dosso''s
paintings in the Castello and elsewhere, and several of
the pictures formerly attributed to Dosso at Dresden
are now recognised as coming from Girolamo*'s hand.
The influence of Parmigianino is noticeable in his works,
and, indeed, his masterpiece, the allegory entitled

1 De Ferraria et Atestinis Principihus Commentariolum (In Graenus,
T/iea. Ant. et Hist Ituliae, VII. I), coll. 39, 54.


" Opportunity and Patience," which Vasari describes as
his, was at one time ascribed to the painter of Parma ;
it was executed for Ercole II. in 1541. Another
of his better works is the Venus drawn in a shell by
swans, and attended by nymphs, at Dresden ; the
North Italian landscape, bounded by low mountains,
is decidedly impressive. In fresco, some indifferent
figures of Saints by him are still to be seen at Ferrara
in San Francesco (where remains of similar works by
his father also exist), with a frieze running round
the church, agreeably decorative, but hardly meriting
Vasari's panegyric.^ He likewise worked with the
Dossi at the villa of Monte Imperiale, where the
Coronation of Charles V., and the scenes from the life
of Francesco Maria della Rovere, seem in great part
to be his.

Girolamo constructed the stage and painted the
scenery for the performances of the plays of his friend,
Giovan Battista Giraldi : his tragedy, the Orbecche,
which was presented in the author's house in 1541, in
the presence of the Duke and a distinguished company ;
and the Egle, a pastoral play similarly produced in
1645. He also won renown as an architect, in which
capacity he accompanied Cardinal Ippolito d'Este, the
second of that name, in 1549 to Rome; where he
constructed for him a villa with gardens on Monte

I VI. p. 476.


Cavallo, where the palace of the Quirinal now stands.
He also worked for a short time in the Vatican for
Julius III. After the disastrous fire of February,
1554, he rebuilt a portion of the Castello for Duke
Ercole. Among the rooms then restored or remodelled
was the cabinet in which the three Bacchanals, already
mentioned, are attributed to Dosso Dossi ; the one in
the centre, the Vintage, is probably the work of
Girolamo himself; and he was, perhaps, the author of
the other two as well. In any case, as already stated,
the best of the three, the Triumph of Bacchus, is hardly
an original work, but simply the composition, painted
on a larger scale by Garofalo, which Vasari declares
to have been from a design of Raphael.

Girolamo da Carpi died in 1556. With him the
school of Ferrara, which had run an unbroken course
from Tura and Cossa to the Dossi and Garofalo, may
be said to have come to an end.



There remain a few words to be said concerning
the immediate followers of Francia at Bologna. To
discriminate between the various more or less mediocre
painters who carried on his traditions, and produced
the countless Madonnas and Holy Families in his
manner, which are scattered through Europe to-day,
would be a task as thankless as difficult. Many of
these works are probably due to his sons, Giacomo and
Giulio Francia.^ To Giacomo Francia, who was bom in
1485, may be attributed the beautiful little Madonna
and Child with the young Baptist at Dresden, and he
is, most likely, also the author of the Madonna with
St. Francis and St. Anthony of Padua, ascribed to his
father in the Accademia at Florence. Several paintings
with Francesco's signature, such as Lord Northbrook's

1 A document published by Milanesi, Vasari, III. p. 558, shows
that Giulio was a son of Francesco Francia, and born on August 20,



Holy Family, and the Madonna in the gallery at
Verona, seem to have been executed bv him. His
pictures lack the devotional repose of his father's workj
and are heavier in colour, but the heads are frequently
very beautiful — as, for instance, that of St. Martha,
who, in his admirable altarpiece in the Bologna gallery,
is presenting six girls to the Blessed Virgin. Later,
particularly in the works executed in collaboration with
Giulio Francia (which are usually signed /. /. Francia),
he is strongly influenced by Dosso Dossi. On the
strength of its resemblance with the warrior saints,
Gervasius and Protasius, in one of his altarpieces in the
Brera, Morelli tentatively attributed to Giacomo Francia
the spirited and romantic portrait of a soldier, errone-
ously supposed to represent Cesare Borgia, at Bergamo/
Giacomo Raibolini died in 1557. Giulio is hardly
known as an independent artist ; a son of his,
Giambattista Francia, also practised as a painter at

Little is known of Giovanni Maria Chiodarolo and
Cesare Tamaroccio, who, between 1504 and 1506.
worked under Francia and Costa in Santa Cecilia.
Both were pupils and imitators of Costa rather than of
his partner. Chiodarolo executed the fresco in which
an Angel crowns the kneeling Cecilia and Valerian
with garlands, a poetically conceived work which was

1 Italian Painters^ i. p. 134,


afterwards imitated by Domenichino, and the Trial of
St. Cecilia before the Roman Prefect, for which a
design by him is in the Uffizi. He is named by
Leandro Alberti as one of the most worthy represen-
tatives of the Bolognese school ; ^ but very few
paintings can be identified as from his hand. Several
pictures ascribed to Costa are attributed to him, such
as the Assumption (once called Perugino's) in San
Martino at Bologna, and the Baptism of Christ in the
collection of Mr. Benson ; but there is documentary
evidence that payment for the former was made to
Costa in 1506.^ By Tamaroccio, who appears as a
weaker painter than Chiodarolo, there is a signed
picture in the Poldi Pezzoli Museum ; the usual com-
position of the Madonna with the Child Saviour and
the little St. John. His frescoes in Santa Cecilia —
the Baptism of St. Valerian and the Martyrdom of
St. Cecilia — are suggestive of Costa in types and
manner. Morelli first attributed to Tamaroccio the
fresco of St. Augustine with four friars in the church
of the Misericordia at Bologna, and the half-length
figure of a female Saint bearing a cross, even more
closely resembling Costa, at Hampton Court, may
provisionally be accepted as his.

1 " Fu anche degno pittore Giovan Maria Chiodarolo " (^Desoritttonc
di tutta Italia^ f. 300).

2 F. Malaguzzi-Valeri, in Emj^orium, XIT. p. 267.


On the other hand, such painters as Giacomo
Boateri, by whom is a signed Madonna in the
Pitti, show themselves mere feeble imitators of
Francia. To Francia's school belong the two painters
of Carpi, Marco Meloni and Bernardino Loschi. By
the former is an altarpiece of 1504 in the Galleria
Estense, and a noteworthy St. Anthony of Padua
in the Villa Borghese, only distinguishable from a work
of Francia by its more opaque colouring and its red-
dish flesh tints. 1 Bernardino Loschi was the favourite
painter of Alberto Pio, the stormy petrel of sixteenth-
century politics. An ornate but uninteresting altar-
piece, which he executed for that prince in 1515, is in
the Galleria Estense, and there are remains of his
frescoes, including a representation of Alberto himself
surrounded by his court in the brief heyday of his
glory, in the palace at Carpi.

Another pupil of Francia's was Biagio Pupini,
known as Biagio dalle Lame, whom Vasari describes
as " persona molto piu pratica nelP arte che eccellente."*'
There are several uninteresting pictures by him at
Bologna (the best being the St. Ursula in San
Giacomo Maggiore), and some drawings in the Uffizi.
He was closely associated with the group of painters,
Amico Aspertini, Bartolommeo da Bagnacavallo, Giro-
lamo da Cotignola, and Innocenzo da Imola, who
1 Of. Venturi, 11 3fuseo e la GalUria Borghese (Rome, 1893), p. 63


filled the gap in Bolognese art during the twenties
and thirties of the sixteenth century, and, according
to Vasari, were all eaten up by vanity and madly
envious of each other : types, according to him, " di
coloro che hanno il capo pieno di superbia e di

Amico di Giovanantonio Aspertini was an older
man than the others, having been born about 1475.
He probably entered the school of Francia and Costa
when very young. His earliest work, the Divine
Child adored by the Blessed Virgin and a number of
Saints, a crowded and unattractive picture in the
Bologna gallery, is signed : Amici Pictori Bonon,
Tirocinium. In his two frescoes in Santa Cecilia,
the Martyrdom of St. Valerian and St. Tiburtius, and
their Entombment, we already find his characteristic
abuse of classical details and introduction of in-
congruous accessories for supposed decorative effect.
Aspertini wandered all over Italy, drawing indis-
criminately the things that took his fancy ; these he
introduced, without rhyme or reason, into his paint-
ings, thereby acquiring " quella maniera cosi pazza e
strana'"" of which Vasari speaks. Here and there, in
his works, we encounter attractive passages and even
finely rendered figures ; but, in the main, they strike us
as an eccentric conglomeration of motives and tran-
scripts, with little charm and no ra'ison d'etre. His


personal character niatclicd his painting, and he
seems for a while to have been really insane. His
wild pranks and mad ways are described at length by
Vasari, who tells us that they greatly entertained
Francesco Guicciardini, when that staid and serious
historian was governor of Bologna from 1531 to
1534. Aspertini died in 1552 or the following year.
Much of his energy was wasted on the decoration of
facades and the like. " There is not a church or a street
in Bologna,"" writes Vasari, " that has not some muddle
{imbratto) from his hand." His best works are the
frescoes in the chapel of the Holy Cross (dedicated to
St. Augustine) in San Frediano at Lucca, early works
executed shortly after 1506, when he was still under
the influence of Francia. Mr. Berenson attributes to
him the fine portrait at Canford iManor of Annibale
Saracco, the major-domo of Duke Alfonso of Ferrara,
dated 1520, which, when in the Costabili collection,
was regarded as a work of Dosso Dossi.

Girolamo di Antonio Marchesi was born at
Cotignola, about 1481. He was the pupil of his
fellow-townsmen, Francesco and Bernardino Zaganelli,
but afterwards studied under Francia at Bologna, and
was later influenced by Raphael, with whom he may
very possibly have worked in the Vatican. He was an
eclectic, of very slight importance or significance. His

1 BurufiaJdi, I. p. 293.


pictures range in date from 1513 to 1526. One of
the earliest and best is the Immaculate Conception,
worshipped by the child Costanzo II Sforza, the son
of Lucrezia Borgia's first husband, and his mother,
Ginevra Tiepolo. This altarpiece was painted in
1513, for the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in
Pesaro, and, from the Ashburnham collection, has
recently found its way to the Brera. At Bologna, he
worked with Biagio Pupini in San Michele in Bosco.
At Rome he is said to have painted the portrait of
Paul III. After a residence at Naples, he died in
Rome, about the middle of the century, having been
the victim of a heartless practical joke on the part
of his companions, who induced him to marry a woman
of abandoned life.i

The two remaining painters were, like Girolamo
Marchesi, provincial Romagnoles who entered Francia's
school, and afterwards received other artistic influences.
Bartolommeo Ramenghi was, as Marchesi, a Ferrarese
subject by birth, having been bom at Bagnacavallo in
1484. He is usually known as II Bagnacavallo. He
worked at Rome under Raphael, and then, returning to
Bologna, acquired considerable local reputation, and
was regarded as the greatest master of his time. As
well as by Raphael, he was largely influenced by Dosso
Dossi. His best work is the altarpiece at Dresden,

1 Vasari, V. p. 181.


painted for the church of the Servitcs at Bologna, in
which the influence of Dosso is particularly noticeable.
He died at Bologna in 1542, Innocenzo Francucci da
Imola entered the school of Francia in 1508.^ He
afterwards went to Florence, and worked, Vasari says
for many years, with Mariotto Albertinelli. Like the
other Bolognese painters of this epoch, he unsuccess-
fully attempted to imitate Raphael. His works range
from 1517 to 1539, and are usually horribly crude in
colouring, with strident greens and reds. One of the
least mipleasing is the portrait of a florid, rather coarse-
looking woman, somewhat flashily dressed, in the Villa
Borghese. As a man, according to Vasari, he was in
all respects an estimable character.

Duke Ercole II. of Ferrara died in October, 1559,
a month after the death of Garofalo. The long reign
of his son and successor, Alfonso II., in spite of the
display and magnificence of his court, illumined by
the genius of Tasso and Guarini, is a gloomy period
in Ferrarese history. Three successive marriagei
produced no heir, to save the duchy from its imminent
absorption into the dominions of the Holy See ; and
all the diplomatic ability of the Duke failed to secure
him success in a single one of his undertakings, whether

1 In Francia's Bupposed diary, Malvasia read: "1608, alii 7 di
maggio, preso in mia scola Noccentio Fraocuccio imolese" (i?^»wia
Piit ice, p. 119).


to establish his rights of precedence over the Medicean
rulers of Tuscany, the descendants of the former bankers
of his house, or to obtain for himself the coveted
crown of Poland/ His vast expenditure compelled
him to grind down his subjects with taxation, and his
whole method of government and administration
gained him the hatred of high and low alike. When,
on his death in 1597, the blow fell, and Pope
Clement VIII. refused to recognise his chosen successor,
Cesare d'Este, as Duke of Ferrara, the populace exult-
antly tore down or effaced the white eagle of Este
throughout the city, and acclaimed the entrance of the
papal legate, Pietro Aldobrandini, as the coming of
a deliverer. Carducci's famous stanzas on the ora
tiefanda, when the wolf of the Vatican scents her prey
from the Tiber and hunts out the Ferrarese nightingales,
are a magnificent lyrical flight, but must not be read
as sober history.^

Ferrarese painting was in its full decline during the
closing years of the duchy. None of the immediate
pupils of the Dossi, such as Gabriele Cappellini and
Giuseppe Mazzuoli, called Bastaruolo, exhibit any talent.

1 Cf. especially A. Solerti, Ferrara e la Corte Estense nella seconda
metd, del secolo decimosesto (Citt4 di Castello, 1900), pp. xxii-xxxiv.

2 AUa Cittd di Ferrara. It need hardly be said that the above

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