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in the Galleria Estense seems an early work, painted
under the influence of Ercole Roberti ; the facial
type of the Madonna of the Annunciation already
appears in the women at the Cross. His hand, too, may
be recognised in certain frescoes of a chapel of the
Duomo in Modena, representing the Last Judgment,

1 It is probably the Anuunciation mentioned by Vasari (ill.
p. 541) as by Francia. Bianchi seems to have had no direct rela-
tions with Fiancia or Costa, but was working on the same lines

2 Venturi, op. cit, p. 386.

3 Venturi, in Arch. S.'or. dcWArte, VII. p. 106. In the relative
documents, the painter is called M°. France?co Frare.





To face page 64


with the Annunciation above and Our Lady a«d Saints
below. A beautiful little Agony in the Garden, in
the Corsini Gallery at Rome, appears also to be his,
probably belonging to a date intermediate between
those of the Crucifixion and the Annunciation.

We are on more uncertain ground with other
paintings ascribed to Bianchi. A striking altarpiece
in San Pietro in Modena, Our Lady enthroned with
St. Jerome and St. Sebastian (with scenes from the
former Saint's life in the predella), while three naked
putti make music at the foot of the throne, is usually
accepted as his, even by Mr. Berenson ; Signor Venturi
has recently attributed it to Bianchi's fellow-townsman,
Pellegrino Aretusi. Our data for judging the latter
painter's work is too scanty to admit of a decisive
opinion. The famous altarpiece, traditionally 'ascribed
to Bianchi in the Louvre, the Madonna and Child
with St. Benedict and St. Quentin, with the two Angels
with lute and viol, and the landscape seen through tlie
slender columns, is now regarded as the work of a
master of Parma.^ In the Wallace collection, a sin<ru-
larly lovely picture is attributed to Bianchi, of two
almost nude figures, a love-lorn youth contemplating a
sleeping girl, with an idyllic landscape beyond in
which herdsmen are watching their kine. The type of

1 Cf. Veuturi, La Pittura Modeneacy p. 387.

2 Cf. Berenson, op. cit., p, 69,


the sleeping girl, the landscape, and the treatment of
foliage, are not quite like what we find in his other
works, but I am unwilling to question the attribution.
This exquisite idyll, which may be taken for Cupid and
Psyche, has the strange romantic beauty of Botticelli's
rendering of mythological themes ; there is nothing
with which to compare it in the whole range of early
Ferrarese art.

There is a tradition due, not to Tommasino de'
Bianchi (as sometimes stated), but to Spaccini, a
seventeenth-century Modenese writer, that Bianchi was
the first master of Correggio. Be that as it may, one
thinks of him as a little out of the main stream of
contemporary Ferrarese art, no court painter like the
others, but living in his provincial city, working for
churches and confraternities, childless, and a little
solitary — till the end came. In February, 1510,
Tommasino de' Bianchi thus records his death : " On
the eighth day of this month died maestro Francesco
de Biancho Frare, a perfect painter and excellent man.
He died of an incurable maladv which had lasted
three months, and he had no sons or daughters, and
left a large portion of his possessions to the poor for
the love of God."" ^

A purely Ferrarese painter, who was probably (a&

1 Cf. Cronaca Modenese di Jacopino de' Bianchi^ p. 5in,

2 Tommasino de' Biauchi, op. cit., I. p. 77.




llertfonl House

To face page 66


Morelli suggests) a fellow-pupil with Bianchi in the
school of Tura, is Doiiienico Panetti.^ He was born
about 1460, the son of a certain Gasparo de"* Panetti,
and died in 1512 or thereabouts. There are few
traces of Tura's influence in his surviving works, which
lack the characteristic vigour ojf the school. Vasari,
not unjustly, speaks of his dry and laboured manner :
avea lu manicra secca e stentata. His extant pictures,
exclusively religious in subject, are for the most part
still in Ferrara. His types are commonplace and un-
attractive, but his colouring is usually rich, and his
landscapes frequently pleasing. In some of his larger
figures, the minute treatment of the beard and hair
has a curiously incongruous effect. His best works
are a long Annunciation, superficially recalling the
composition of the well-known picture attributed to
Andrea Verrocchio in the Uffizi, and a Visitation (said
by BarufFaldi to be an early work), formerly in
S. Maria in \'ado. If the beautiful little Madonna
and Child at Modena (in which the face of Our
luAdy is somewhat unlike his earlier type) be really his,
he seems at one time to have been influenced by
Boccaccino da Cremona, who was working at Ferrara
in the last years of the fifteenth century.^ Unlike
most earlier Ferrarese painters, Panetti usually signs

Italian Painters (Miss Ffoulkes' tranal.), I. p. 201 n.
« See below, Chapter IX.


his pictures (in which practice he was imitated by his
pupil Garofalo) ; but, with the exception of the altar-
piece of 1503 from the church of S. Giobbe at
Ferrara, now in the collection of Herr von Kaufmann
at Berlin/ seldom dates them. They exhibit little
variation or progress. There is documentary evidence
that, in 1506, he executed a ceiHng-painting, probably
mythological in subject, for the private room of the
new duchess, Lucrezia Borgia, in the Torre Marchesana
of the Castello Vecchio. This tela istoriata has naturally
disappeared. With the exception of two pictures at
Berlin, the only work out of Italy attiibuted to him
is a little panel of Our Lady adoring the Divine
Child, in the Louvre, which has but slight resemblance
with his style, and which Mr. Berenson conjectures
may possibly be an early painting of Ortolano.

1 Cf. Harck, Opffre di Maestri Ferraresi in raccolte private a
BeJ'lino, in Arch. Stor. delVArtey I, p. 103.


DoMKMCo rAM/rri



7'() l(tri' i>(i(i<- 68




The partnership between Costa and Francia marks an

epoch in the history of painting in the EmiHan cities.

These two men held much the same ^josition in the

school of Ferrara at the end of the Quattrocento and

beginning of the Cinquecento as Cosimo Tura and

Francesco del Cossa had done in the seventies and

eighties of the fifteenth century; from the school

which they founded in Bologna most of the later

Ferrarese and Bolognese painters proceeded.

I^orenzo Costa has been called the Perugino of the

Ferrarese school. Not only does he occupy a place in

northern Italian art somewhat analogous to that of the

great master of Perugia among the painters of Central

Italy, but with him a softer spirit, a feeling and

sentiment nearly akin to that of the Umbrians, finds

its way into the more robust creations of the FYTrarese.

This he probably owed, in some part, to his intercourse

with Francia.



There was a whole family of artists named Costa in
the employment of the Estensi, beginning with Andrea
di Gherardo Costa, originally a native of Vicenza, who
painted a Coronation of the Blessed Virgin for
Leonello in 1449;^ Ottavio Costa, Lorenzo's father,
was, perhaps, a nephew or grandson of this earlier
painter, of whom no works survive, l^orenzo was born
in 1460.^ Most probably he studied painting in the
workshop of Cosimo Tura. There is absolutely no
evidence to support Vasari''s assertion that he went to
Florence in his youth. While still young, he moved
to Bologna, in the footsteps of Francesco del Cossa
and Ercole Roberti, and probably became a pupil and
assistant of the latter master. Vasari tells us that he
began, for Domenico Garganelli, the frescoes in San
Fietro which Ercole Roberti finished. Unless Vasari
is confusing him with Cossa (as is very probable), this
would be in 1482 or thereabouts. According to
Cxhirardicci, Lorenzo was engaged with many other
painters in 1483 on the decorations of the palace of
Giovanni Bentivoglio, that treasure-house of Bolognese
and Ferrarese art which was destined to speedy destruc-
tion at the hands of the people ; and there " he
painted certain rooms in a loggia opening out of the
third cortile towards the Borgo della Paglia, where,

1 Cf. Caiiipori, op. cit.^ p. 550.

« C. D'Arco, JJeUe Arti e deijli A/ieJici di MarUovaf I, p. 62.


with very great skill, he depicted the Ruin of Troy —
a tiling deemed miraculous by all in that time."" ^

Giovanni Bentivoglio was at the height of his
power in Bologna, when Lorenzo Costa thus entered
his service, and the marriage of his eldest son Annibale
with Lucrezia d'Este, in 1487, strengthened the long-
standing alliance with Ferrara. Unlike the Estensi in
Modena and Ferrara, the " magnifico Giovanni " held
Bologna by no imperial or papal investiture. He was
simply prior ex antiunis, an unofficial head of the
republic in a city nominally subject to the Holy See.*
Besides the decorations of his palace, the family chapel,
the Cappella Bentivoglio, in San Giacomo Maggiore,
was a special object of his care, since each Renaissance
prince, whatever his external life and conduct may have
been, was fain to put his relations with the Church on
a permanent artistic basis. And in this they were wise
in their generation ; for, w^hereas every trace of the
palace and its paintings has vanished, the pictures of
the Cappella Bentivoglio, and the later series of frescoes
in the adjacent oratory of Sta. Cecilia, remain almost
the sole artistic record of the family in the city. The
chapel was begun in 1445 by Giovanni's predecessor,
Santi Bentivoglio, and already contained the equestrian

1 DrW Istoria di Bologna, III. lib. 36.

2 And therefore styled " Magnificence," not " Excellence," the
title reserved in the fifteenth century for rulers of imperial or papal
duchies or marciuisatea.


portrait of his own father, Annibale, attributed to

Niccolo delPArca, when the paintings were commissioned.

Costa was then twenty-eight, and the three paintings

in tempera which he now executed are the earHest of

his works that can be identified. On the right wall of

the chapel, he represented the Madonna and Child on

the usual Ferrarese throne, with its classical bas-reliefs

and allegorical statuettes ; the Blessed Virgin is of the

unlovely early Ferrarese type, and has a pagan sacrifice

at her feet. On either side kneel Giovanni Bentivoglio

himself, in the simple dress of a Bolognese citizen, and

Ginevra, the cruel and violent wife whom he had

inherited with the state from his predecessor, and whom

Costa"'s art has not advanced far enough to flatter.

Below stand their children : four sons on the side of

the father, seven daughters in attendance on the mother.^

There is something pathetic in these vigorous, attractive

if uncomely, youthful figures, whose subsequent lives

history was to wrap round with tragedy. Annibale,

the eldest son (whose rich robe bears the white eagle of

Este in token of his recent marriage), was doomed to

end life as an exile, dependent upon the charity of his

1 Venturi, Lorenzo Costa, pp. 242, 243, first pointed out the close
connection of this picture with the beginning of Gynevera de le dare
donne, the book written for Ginevra almost at the same time by
Giovanni Sabadino degli Arienti. " Hai anchora havuto de tanto
marito, gloriosa Madonna, angelica sobole de sexdeci figliuoli";
five in Paradise, and the eleven living whom Costa represents (ed.
C. Ilicci and A. l^acchi della Legu, Bologna, 1888, p. 4V.


Ferrarese brother-in-law ; Anton Galeazzo, the young
ecclesiastic next to him, already in the nionsignore''s
purple, found shelter from his house's downfall in the
bosom of the Church ; Alessandro, the lad with the
plumed cap, lives, together with his wife, in Luini's
frescoes in San Maurizio at Milan, and in Bandello's
novelle ; while the fourth son, the little boy Ermete,
grew up a monster of cruelty (the true son of his mother),
and fell in battle. Of the six daughters, Bianca and
Leonora, the two in the foreground more richly clad,
were already the wives of Count Niccolo Rangoni of
Modena and Giberto Pio of Carpi, respectively ; behind,
between them, stands Francesca in widow''s weeds — she
had murdered her husband, Galeotto Manfredi of Faenza,
but a few months before. Violante, who is next to
Leonora, was already betrothed to Pandolfo Malatesta,
lord of Rimini, whom she married in the following
year, and with him was doomed to destitution when
their petty lordship was absorbed by the temporal
power of the Church. Next to her, on the right, the
two younger girls are Laura, the future wife of
Giovanni Gonzaga, and Isotta (with her childish con-
fident bearing) — her betrothed husband, Ottaviano
Riario, deprived of his states in 1500, became a priest
and she entered a convent. On the extreme left,
almost hid by her more worldly sisters, is one in nun's

1 NovdU^ I. 1, II. 54 (dedications).


dress with a rapt expression on her face ; she alone is
looking up at the Blessed Virgin and the Divine
Child. This is Camilla, who took the veil in the
convent of the Corpus Domini at Ferrara,^ and was
still living there in 1503, when her less fortunate
sister Isotta joined her.

The picture is inscribed in the name of Giovanni
Bentivoglio : —

'* Me patriam et dulces cara cum coniuge nates
Comendo precibus^ Virgo Beata, tuis " ;

with the painter"*s addition: MCCCCLXXXVIIl
Augusti Laurentius Costa Faciehat.

Costa afterwards painted the Triumphs of Death
and of Fame, remotely suggested by the Triumphus
Mwtis and Triumphus Famae of Petrarca, on the
opposite wall. Here and there, isolated motives and
individual figures are finely rendered, but the whole
effect is somewhat confused. They were completed in

These early works, together with tlie Madonna and

Child with St. Sebastian and St. James, now in the

gallery at Bologna, signed and dated 1491 (a very

inferior picture), are stiff and tentative, strongly

reminiscent of Ercole Roberti, and even, to some extent,

1 " Camilla egregia vergene, la quale a li eervitii del celeste
principe nel raonastero de Bancta Clara se h renchisa, che a te fiia
cumulo de divino thesauro" {Oynevera de h dare donne, p. 5).

• « • • •

• a • • •


LoKEN/.o Costa


San Oiovaniii in Mniite, I'mloi^na

To/dtr }Ktgt 74


of Tura and Cossa, tlioiigh without their force and
vigour. In the following year, he suddenly seems to
have come into his own, with the noble altarpiece of
the Cappella Bacciocchi in San Petronio, signed and
dated 1492. 'ITie splendid colouring, the virile and
finely characterised figures of the four Saints surrounding
the Madonna's throne, the beauty of the three Angels
making melody in the tympanum above, make this a
masterpiece of fifteenth-century religious art. The
Madonna and Child with St. Petronius and St.
Thecla, of 1496, in the Bologna gallery, in which the
influence of Cossa is observable, is inferior ; but in the
following year, 1497, Costa surpassed himself with the
altarpiece executed for the Cappella Ghedini (as it
then was) of S. Giovanni in Monte. This, indeed, is
the finest of all his works. It has that indefinable
religious sentiment that we associate with the name of
Perugino, but the colour is richer and the types are
more virile, while the Madonna anticipates the early
works of Raphael. Here, again, we have the typical
arrangement of the throne, with the classical bas-reliefs
in bronze on the capitals of the pillars and above the
arches, while, through the open space below, we see the
earliest of those beautiful landscapes for which the
painter is justly renowned. The Child, too, has
more of the divine than we find in any of Costa''s


When these latter works were executed, Costa had
already entered into partnership with Francia, who was
some ten years older than himself, and who, although
famous as a worker in metal, especially as a goldsmith,
had only turned his skill to painting at a comparatively
recent date.

Francesco Raibolini was born about 1450, the son
of Marco di Giacomo Raibolini, a Bolognese citizen
who, besides being a wood-carver, took some part in
the municipal affairs of the city, and belonged to an
old family. He appears to have been called Francia,
or // Francia^ from the goldsmith to whom he was
apprenticed, and who was, perhaps, the Franze orefice
digno living at the court of Naples in 1484, to whom
the Duchess Leonora of Ferrara bade the Estensian
ambassador, Bartolommeo Cavalieri, have recourse to
find her a skilful goldsmith.^ Francia matriculated
in the goldsmiths' guild of Bologna, the Societa degU
Oreficiy on December 10, 1482,^ and he continued up
to the end of his life to sign himself on his pictures a
goldsmith : Francia Aurifcx, or Francia Anrifabtr.
There has been much throwinir about of brains in the
attempt to identify him with the famous type-founder
and printer, Francesco da Bologna, the inventor of the

1 Cf. Venturi, L^Arte Emiliana del Hinascimento : il Francia, p. 7.

2 Kmilio Orioli, Se/itenza arbitrale pronuncida da Francesco
Francia, doc. I. In the following year, 1483, Francia was elected
masaarOy or steward, of the guild.


Italic type, " una nova forma de littera dicta cursiva,
overo cancellaresca,'"* who, after working for Aldus at
Venice and Girolamo Soncino at Fano, set up a press
of his own at Bologna in 1516; but it seems now
established, beyond the reach of question, that the
latter was a totally different person.^ Francia worked
much in niello, a kind of engraving upon silver or
other metal, and there still remain from his hand in
this kind two small silver paxes, enclosed in shrines,
with representations of the Crucifixion and Resurrection
respectively, in the gallery at Bologna, and a few
prints taken from such niello plates, one of which is in
the British Museum.^ His skill as a goldsmith was
frequently requisitioned by the Estensi and Bentivogli.
In 1485 we have record of payment to him for work
for the Duchess Leonora, including a gold chain
formed of linked hearts;^ and, in 1487, for the
marriage of Annibale and Lu(Tezia, he wrought vessels
and plate of gold and silver decked with jewels, richly

1 Cf. G. Manzoni, Studi di Bihliografia Analitica, I., Bologna, 1881 ;
Adamo Rossi, in Atti e memone della H. B. di Storia Patria per
Romagna (series III. vol. I.), pp. 412-417. The identification was
first attempted by Panizzi, Chi era Francesco da Bologna^ London,
1858 and 1873. Rossi has shown that the printer is described in a
Perugian document of 1512 as " Magister Franciscus Griffus de
Bononia, incisor licterarum stampe."

a Cf. A. M. Hind, A Short History of Engraving and Etching,
pp. 42, 69 ; G. C. Williamson, Francesco FaiboHni called Francia,
pp. 10-19.

3 Campori, op. cit., doc. 22.


worked candlesticks and the like, decorated shields
for the j ousters, and bards for the horses, A cur\ed
shield with St. George and the Dragon, executed in
decorated cuir bouilli for one of the Bentivogli,
is still attributed to him, and may belong to this date.*
He appears, too, to have presided over the Bolognese
mint, and executed the dies for the coins and medals
of Giovanni Bentivoglio, several specimens of which
are extant.

Although Francia did not actually matriculate as a
painter in the Societa delle Quuttro Arti (painters,
saddlers, sheath-makers, and swordsmiths) until
December 23, 1503,^ he was already painting in
the eighties of the fifteenth century. In an Epithala-
mium for the marriage of Annibale and Lucrezia,
Angelo Salimbeni extols him as not only surpassing
Phidias in sculpture and Maso Finiguerra with the
graver, but also excelling Polygnotus in painting.'
There is no affinity between Francia's art and the
earlier Bolognese painting. Neither is it probable, as
stated by Bolognese writers, that his first master was
Marco Zoppo. As a painter, he is entirely Ferrarese in
character, and it is not unlikely that he had been a

1 Cf. Williamson, op. cit., p. 3.

2 E. Orioli, op. cit., doc. 2.

3 It appears, however, that he was not the Francesco de Franza
(Campori, op. cit., doc. 22) who painted an ancona for the Duchess
Leonora in 14S8.


pupil of Francesco del Cossa during that master's
residence in Bologna. About 1490, Francia opened
a comprehensive school of arts and crafts in the city,
and Lorenzo Costa entered into partnership with hiin.
It is said that the workshop of the two masters was
divided into two parts : Costa teaching painting in the
one, while Francia presided over the casting of medals
and the goldsmith's work in the other. But it seems
clear that the teaching of painting was not confined
to Costa, and that many of the young men, who began
to throng to them, became the elder master's
direct followers. Neither Costa nor Francia was in
any sense the pupil of the other, though it is probable
that, in their mutual action and reaction, the influence
of Costa was at first the more powerful. But it has
been observed that, in the works they executed to-
gether, Francia was the leading spirit, and undertook
the more important portions.

Francia's earliest paintings, such as the Crucifixion
in the library of the Archiginnasio at Bologna, and
the small Madonna and Child with St. Joseph
painted for Bartolommeo Bianchini, which is now at
Berlin, with their high finish and minute execution,
their rigid and angular drapery, enamel-like surface, and
general stiffness, show that the painter was more
accustomed to work in metal.^ A singularly beautiful

1 Cf. Williamson, op. eii., pp. 33-35.


work of this earliest epoch is the St. Stephen of
the Borghese gallery, commissioned, according to the
inscription,|by one Vincenzo di Desiderio, which, though
still hard and shadowless, is a masterpiece of religious
feeling : " Few paintings,"' writes Morelli, " are so full
of the essence of the purest art/' ^ In the inscription
on this and on the Berlin Holy Family (and
nowhere else in his extant works), the painter signs
himself simply Francia, without the usual qualifica-
tion of Aurifex. Somewhat later, but still very early,
is the little St. George formerly attributed to
Ercole Grandi, in the Corsini gallery ; a delightfully
naive work with more atmosphere, and somewhat freer
in technique.

The Holy Family just mentioned, at Berlin, is
signed in an elegiac couplet : —

" Bartholomei sumptu Blanchini maxima Matrum,
Hie vivit manibus, Francia, picta tuis." ^

This Bartolommeo Bianchini was a young Bolognese
nobleman who had devoted himself to letters, and had
studied at the University under two famous humanists,
the elder Filippo Beroaldi and Antonio Codro Urceo,
whose lives he wrote. A great friend of scholars, a

J Ilulian FalnUrs, I. pp. 194, 195 (Miss Ffoulkes' trausl.).
« •* At the charge of Bartolommeo Bianchini, the greatest of
Motherg here lives, painted, Francia, by thy hands."

• • •


Franc I A


('(irsiiii (;.'illory

I'li/dVC JXti/c gd


collector of antiquities, and a keen connoisseur of art,
he gave promise in his youth of high achievement,
which was never quite fulfilled. The only works of
his that have come down to us are the two biographical
sketches just mentioned, one of which — that of Antonio
Codro Urceo — is, however, a masterpiece of its kind.^
A warm personal affection united him to Francia,
who was considerably older than himself. Bianchini's
curiously stiff and unattractive portrait by the latter's
hand, one of Mr. Salting's bequests to the National
Gallery, is evidently among the artist's earliest works,
painted about the same time as the Holy Family at
Berlin. At the beginning of 1498, Francia painted a
portrait of Antonio Codro Urceo, at the request
of Anton Galeazzo Bentivoglio, then Archdeacon
of Bologna, a genial and courtly young prelate, who
was the centre of the artistic and literary life of the
city.^ " His image and complete likeness,'"" writes

1 For Bianchini, c/. Fantuzzi, Notizie degli Scrittori Bolo'jnesi,

1 2 3 5 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15