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II. pp. 178-180; Carlo Malagola, Delia vita e delle opere di Antonio
Urceo dctto Codro (Bologna, 1878), pp. 296-300. The Codri Vita a
BarthoLomaeo Blanchino Bononiensi condita ad 3/inum lioscium
senatorem Bononiensem is appended to the volume of the works of
Antonio Urceo, Opus Codri, edited by the younger Filippo Beroaldi,
printed at Bologna in 1502 and Venice in 1506. In the dedication
to Anton Galeazzo Bentivoglio, Beroaldi speaks of Bianchini as
"iuvenis ingenii perquara amoeni, qui dum eius vitam perscribit
ilium vivere facit."

2 Cf. Opus Codri, ed. 1506, ff. xLir, XLVilr, and Malagola, op.
eit., pp. 196-198. The portrait, which was in the Archdeacon's
bed-chamber, was perhaps a portion of a fresco, as Filippo Boroaldi,


Bartolommeo Bianchini, "hath been wondrously de-
picted in the palace of the Bentivogli by our love and
delight, Francia, that goldsmith of approved talent,
whose unique height of genius all alike love and
admire and worship as divine. He is the sovereign
goldsmith of our age, and, as it were, the God of this
art ; and in painting to be placed after no one. For
neither pictures nor work in chased metal are to be
seen, which take our eyes rather than his. Verily, I
would extol thee, Francia, with most lengthy praise,
were it not that 1 might seem to some to have fallen
by excessive love into an immoderate semblance of
adulation. But love and the sweetness of the man's
character have withdrawn me too long from my theme.*" ^

This dulcedo viri, the sweetness of his character,
seems to have deeply impressed Francia's contem-
poraries, and is reflected in all his art.

Francia'*s series of great altarpieces begins with the
Madonna and Child with six Saints, painted in 1494,
for the Felicini chapel in the Madonna della Miseri-
cordia outside the Porta Castiglione of Bologna.
Vasari (who wrongly dates it 1490) declares that this

was Francia's first picture ; but it is evidently the work

in hiB dedication of the volume to G. A. Bentivoglio, says : *' Eius
imftginem intra cubiculum tuum habere voluisti, depictam in coetu
papientum, ab aurifice nobilissimo Francia." This is probably the
" di?puta di filoaofi," mentioned by Vasari, III. p. 539.

1 Codri Vita, ed. cit., f. LXixv. Antonio Urceo died in February,

■* ^ •>

'-,• •


iMnrnjAiT of bautolom.meo BrAXCuixi

Niitioual Giillery

To I (((•<■ jiiiiit' 82


of an accomplished and practised master. The por-
trait of the kneehng donor, Bartolommeo Felicini, who
commissioned the painting as a thankoffering for his
recovery from ilhiess, is exceedingly fine, and the lute-
playing Angel at the foot of the throne is a delightful
motive, which became very characteristic of Francia for
the next six years, but which he appears to have com-
pletely abandoned in his later works.

The most important and best preserved of Francia''s
works of this epoch is the altarpiece painted for
Giovanni Bentivoglio in 1499, for the Bentivoglio
chapel in San Giacomo Maggiore, of which the walls
were already decorated with Lorenzo Costa''s frescoes.
This, the richest in colouring of all the painter's works,
has much of the robust vigour of the Ferrarese school,
with somewhat less of that peculiar religious sentiment
which, now and then, tends to mannerism in his later
pictures. Francia's Angels always have a unique charm
of their own. The two here, Avith lute and viol at the
foot of the throne, clad in the symbolical green and red
of hope and love, are very typical ; while the two
kneeling above on either side of the Blessed Virgin, in
adoration, are said to be portraits of two of the
magnifico Giovanni's children.^

1 Probably two of the five already dead, who, as Sabadino degli
Arienti has it, '* ornati de girlande de fronde de Gynepro per il
materno nome, triumphando nel choro de li Angeli orano per te li\
Maie.std divina" {Oy/irrera, p. 4).


Immediately afterwards, Francia and Costa together
painted an altarpiece for Giovanni's second son, Mon-
signor Anton Galeazzo Bentivoglio, for the Madonna
della Misericordia. It is said that the work was
finished in two months, but it bears no trace of
hasty execution. In the central panel, by Francia's
hand, the Archdeacon is represented on Our Lady's
right, adoring the Divine Child, in the habit of a
Knight of Malta, while behind him stands his patron
saint, St. Anthony of Padua, in whom tradition would
have us see a portrait of Francia himself. The picture,
which is colder in colour than any other work of
Francia's and has suffered much from restoration, is now
in the Bolognese gallery. Costa's share was confined to
the figure of the risen Christ above, with the Arch-
angel Gabriel and the Madonna of the Annunciation
on either side, which are still in their place in the
church, and the predella, now in the Brera, represent-
ing the Adoration of the Magi, with a lovely landscape
in which a winding river finds its way to the sea
between low hills.

On the right of Francia's picture, clad as a shepherd
but crowned with the laurel wreath, stands a hand-
some personage who played some part in the career of
both painters. Girolamo Casio was the son of a

1 Cf. Calvi, Memoric dclla vita e delle nprre di Francesco Ralholini
detto il Francia, p. 20.


certain March ione de"* Pandolfi of Casio, a castello in
tlie Bolognese. He was a wealthy merchant and skil-
ful goldsmith, a man of plebeian birth with an insatiable
desire of being taken seriously as a political wire-
puller, and of climbing the rungs of the social ladder ;
a liberal and discerning patron of art in others, he was
himself a copious writer of indifferent verse, which
later procured him the laurel crown (here anticipated
by Francia) from Leo X. and the ridicule of better
judges of literature.^ His chief poetical work is
contained in three small volumes printed at Bologna
in the twenties of the sixteenth century : a book of
religious verse, comprising a canzone on the Life and
Death of Christ, imitated from Petrarca, and a collec-
tion of poems in honour of the Saints, which have
some value in illustration of the iconography of the
Bolognese painters ; ^ Bellona, a heroic poem in ottava
rima dedicated to Ercole Gonzaga ;^ and the Cronica,
his best known work, including a copious series of
epitaphs, together with La Gonzaga, a group of love-

1 Cf. Fautuzzi, op. cit., III. pp. 130-140; Lueio and Kenier, La
coltura e h relazioni letterarie di Isabella d'Este Gonzaga, 5. pp. 56-
64. Pietro Aretino {Cortigiana, act ii. sc. 11) couples Casio with
the notorious Baraballo, the butt of Leo's courtiers.

« Vita c nwrte di Miser Jesu Christo ad imitatione de una canzone
di Miser Francesco Petrarcha : Vitc de' Santi : sonetti, cajtitoli, canzoni^
Utrastici, eglogd, tt mandrigaletti, composti a consolation de' fiddi.
Bolo?na, 1524.

s Libra Intitulalo Bellona net quale si tratta di Arme, di Letere, e
di Anwre. Bologna, 1525.


sonnets, and Clementina, poems mainly in honour of
Clement VII. ^ A devoted servant and flatterer of the
Bentivogli and Gonzaga, Casio was a frequent cor-
respondent of Isabella d''Este, who employed him as
her intermediary with the artists of Bologna, In later
life he was granted the surname "de"* Medici/"* ap-
parently as a reward for services rendered to that
family in exile — services which he exaggerates to a
colossal degree in a letter addressed to Clement VIL
(prefixed to the Clementina), in which he represents
himself as a ruling spirit in the Romagnole politics of
the early years of the sixteenth century. After this,
he grandiloquently styles himself " the magnific-ent
Girolamo Casio de' Medici, Bolognese patrician, knight,
and poet laureate "' — though, in spite of papal briefs,
the Bolognese steadily declined to recognise him as a
nobleman. His self-composed epitaph sums up his
career :- —

" Visse il Casio mercante e zoilero
Et con Appol' hebbe sua mente unita,
A Terra Santa and6, scrisse la Vita
Di Christo; hor qui 6 Poeta e Cavalero." ^

1 Lihro ifitittUato Cronica ore at tratta di JEpitaphii, di Amore, t di
Virtute. Bologna, 1528. Among the Epitaphs (most of them
execrable) are those for Francia, Bartolommeo Bianchini, Bar-
tolommeo Felicini, and the Milanese painter, BeltraflBo, with whom
Casio was closely associated, as his portrait in the Brera and tha
Madonna in the Louvre show.

ft Op. eit., f. 40. " Casio lived a merchant and jeweller, and had hid

. « • •

• . > > >

> » > »

Anil< rsdii


With Auton Galeazzo Bentivoglio and Girolamo Casio)


'I'll /'ilCr /Itlf/i' 8(;


We SAW that Costa was working with Francia on
the Bentivogho altarpiece for the Misericordia, of
which his predella is signed and dated 1499. In the
same year, he was temporarily at Ferrara, where it
was proposed that he should take some part in the
decoration of the newly completed choir of the
Duomo.^ In September, he received payment for a
picture which he had executed for Duke Ercole. It
has been suggested that this may be the large altar-
piece, once in the church of the Gesu in Ferrara and
now in the possession of Lord Wimborne, in which the
cloak of the Blessed Virgin is fastened by a brooch
bearing the white eagle of Este ; but the style of the
picture is thought to point to a later date in the
artist's career.^

With the beginning of the sixteenth century, a
change comes over the character of Costa'*s art. It
" no longer shows the robust strength of the figures of
the Bacciocchi and Ghedini chapels ; his personages
seem to grow small, to lose substance, and to shrink,
as though to leave more room for the expansion of the
landscape, those luminous valleys of the background.

mind united with Apollo. He went to the Holy Land, and wrote the
life of Christ ; now he is here, Poet and Knight." He describes his
remarkable adventures as a pilgrim in the dedication of the

1 Cy. Cittadella, Documcnti ed ilhistrazioni, p. 70.

« Cf. R. H. Benson, Introduction to Exhibition of Works of the
School of Ferrara-Iiolo'jna, p. xx.


The figures no longer fill the space of the picture, but
stand out on the green of the meadows and against the
limpid horizons."

A typical example is the Coronation of the Madonna
behind the high altar of San Giovanni in Monte,
painted about 1501, in which the Saints, who contem-
plate the mystery from below, are entirely subordinated
to the singularly beautiful landscape, and have lost the
virile character of Costa'*s earlier paintings. The same,
to a less degree, is true of his two pictures of 1505,
the polyptych painted for a church at Faenza and now
in the National Gallery, and the Espousals of the
Blessed Virgin, which has passed from the Annunziata
to the gallery at Bologna ; these admirably coloured
works, with their fine landscapes, lack the life and
vigour of the altarpieces of the preceding decade.
Another picture of this epoch is at Bologna, signed and
dated 1502, in which St. Petronius is enthroned
between St. Francis and St. Dominic, two slender
figures against a gold background, while, instead of a
landscape, the space below the throne is occupied by a
bas-relief of the Adoration of the Kings ; it is curiously
feeble and uncharacteristic.

In October, 1503, "Lorenzo Costa pittor famoso "
accompanied the ambassadors sent to Rome by the
republic of Bologna to congratulate Pius III. on his

1 V'euturi, Lorenzo UoxCa, p. 247.


elevation. The Pope died before the mission was
accomplished, and the ambassadors were instructed to
remain in Rome to congratulate his successor.^ Julius II.
having been elected, after the shortest conclave in
modem history, the ambassadors paid their homage,
and Costa probably returned at once to Bologna.
These were still the Pre-Raphaelite days in Rome, and
there was little as yet to allure the painter's artistic

The year 1504 brought both Costa and Francia
into touch with the Marchesana of Mantua. Isabella
was full of a plan of having her studiolo or carnerino,
her boudoir in the Castello, adorned with a series ot
allegorical paintings drawn from classical mythology
by all the chief painters of Italy ; ^ a uniform decorative
scheme, of which the special subjects were devised by
one of her favourite Mantuan scholars, Paride Ceresara,
probably in the first instance with the assistance of
that greatest of court painters, Andrea Mantegna.
For this purpose, Mantegna had already painted his
Parnassus, or " Triumph of Venus " (finished by July,
1497), and his Expulsion of the Vices, or "Triumph

1 Bolognese Chronicle of Antonio Ghiselli, cited by Venturi,
op. cit., pp. 247. 248.

2 " Picture ad historia de li excellenti pictori che sono al presente
iu Italia." Letter of September 16, 1502. W. Braghirolli, J\'ntizice
documtnti inediti intorno a Pitro Vannncci dflto II J'rruginn, p.


of Minerva *" (before November, 1502).^ But the other
painters were more dilatory. Isabella had approached
Leonardo da Vinci, Giovanni Bellini, and Perugino,
with small results. Her method, for having her
fantasie (as she called them) carried out, was to get
a complicated storia or invenziojie devised by Paride
Ceresara, and, in some cases, actually drawn by a local
painter under his direction, and then to forward it to
the master selected, with the most minute directions
as to scenery, light, size, and measurements — leaving
nothing but the execution to the artist. I^onardo
was naturally too busy. Bellini did not like the
subject proposed to him, and felt he could do nothing
with it. After leaving him to his own devices (as long
as he kept to an antique theme with an allegorical
meaning), the Marchesana at last obtained a small
picture of the Nativity.^ To Perugino she sent a
long instruction, beginning : " Our poetic invention,
which I greatly desire to be painted by you, is a
Battle of Chastity against Lust, that is, Pallas and
Diana fighting manfully against Venus and Love '"* ;
a most complicated fantasia^ with a vast number of
figures and innumerable details — the painter being
allowed to reduce the number of figures, but forbidden

1 Cf. Kristeller, Andrea MafitegtM (ed. Strong), pp. 349,

a Cf. Mrs. Ady, hahella d'Ente, I. pp. 341-3"8.

« • •
• • •



THE be\tivo(;lio altakpikce

San Giacomo Ma-yit)^', li<.l<>gna

'J'ojan l><iij'' ^"


to introduce anything of his own invention.^ After
much delay, she received the picture, the " Triumph of
Chfistity," in June, 1505, a very unworthy work, which
she frankly told the painter would inevitably suffer
by the comparison with Mantegna's creations.^

Thin^ stood thus with the camerino when Mon-
signor Anton Galeazzo Bentivoglio visited Mantua in
tlie summer of 1504, and undertook to get his kins-
woman a picture from a Bolognese artist. On
November 1, he \vrote that he had arranged it, and
desired her fantasia in order to have a work worthy of
its place in the room. Isabella at once wrote to Paride
for the iiivenzione^ and was delighted with what he
promptly sent her : " If only the painters,""* she says,
" could be as rapid as the poet ! "" The " invention ""
was sent with full directions to Costa, the painter
selected by the Archdeacon who intended the picture
as a gift from himself to Isabella, in return for her
kindness to his niece Violante.^ In the meanwhile, the
Marchesana had commissioned another painting for
the camerino independently, through Girolamo Casio,
from Francia, On August 17, 1505, Casio wrote
to her : " Our most reverend protonotary Bentivoglio

1 "A sminuirli sia in liberty vostra, manon agiugnierli cosa alcuna
altra." In Braghirolli, loc. cit., pp. 164, 165.

« Letter of June 30, 1605. Braghirolli, op. cit., p. 280.

« Cf. Letter of December 1, 1504, from A. G. Bentivoglio to
l.sibella. LuEio, I ritiatti d'laabeila d'Ette, p. 359.


yesterday evening bade me inform your Excellence
that the work that Costa is doing was well advanced,
and that it will certainly be finished before next
Christmas. In my opinion, your Excellence will be
delighted with it." He asks Isabella to send the
sketch for the other picture, together with twenty-five
ducats, to Francia, " who is waiting for nothing else,
and has refused to take any other work." ^

Francia did not receive the design at this time ; but
Costa's picture, though delayed by illness and his work
in Sta. Cecilia, was completed in the following year.
It is the charming " Triumph of Poetry," now (like the
others of the cycle) in the Louvtc, which the painter's
elegant flattery has transformed into a transparent
allegory of the court of Isabella herself. It is the
Marchesana who stands before the seated Calliope, to
receive the crown of laurel from Love's hands, on the
flowery meadow in this courtly re-invocation of the
golden age ; while^ in the dainty carpet-knight slaying
the hydra, some have recognised the features of
Baldassare Castiglione, others, perhaps with greater
probability, those of the donor of the picture, "our
most reverend protonotary Bentivoglio." ^

1 Venturi, op. cit., p. 251n ; Luzio and Renier, op. cit., 5.- p. 62.

2 Cf. Mrs. Ady, op. cit., I. p. 376 ; Gruyer, li. pp. 213, 214 ;
Luzio, I ritratti d'haheUa d'Este, pp. 357-359. Signor Luzio
protests against calling the picture the " Court of Isabella d'Este,"
and deuied that it eontaius any portraits.


During these years Francia had been fully occupied
in the execution of large altarpieces for churches, small
votive pictures for private devotion, and frescoes. The
beautiful Madonna adoring the Divine Child in a
rose-garden, now at Munich, seems to have been
painted for a church in Ferrara in the closing years
of tlie fifteenth century/ Most characteristic of this
epoch in his art are the anconas for Bolognese
churches, the Madonna and Child with attendant
Saints grouped in pyramidal fashion, in constantly
varying schemes of colour ; with either the little
Baptist or Angel children, bearing lilies or making
music at the foot of the throne : dreams of ideal beauty
which, as Vasari writes, " seem verily to belong to
Paradise." The galleries of Bologna, Vienna, and
St. Petersburg possess masterpieces in this kind. The
frescoed history of Judith, so enthusiastically praised
by Vasari, which Francia painted in the palace of
Giovanni Bentivoglio, has perished, and we know it
now only in Messer Giorgio's description and in two
drawings. With the exception of the " Madonna del
Terremoto,'" painted in 1 505 in the Palazzo del Comune,
to celebrate the deliverance of the city of Bologna from
earthquake at Our Lady's intercession, we can only judge
of Francia as Sifrescante by the two works in this medium
which he executed for Bentivoglio in Santa Cecilia.
1 Cf. Williamson, op. cit., p, 119.


The decoration of the Httle church, or oratory, of
Santa Ceciha was the last artistic work undertaken by
Giovanni Bentivoglio in Bologna. This is a building,
originally of the fourteenth century, united to the
Augustinian convent of San Giacomo Maggiore, which
had been altered by him in 1484 in order to enlarge
his own chapel in the latter church, and his intention was
to be buried therein himself. Between 1504 and 1506,
he had its walls covered with a series of ten frescoes,
setting forth the life of the Virgin Martyr and of her
husband, St. Valerian, by Francia and Costa, and their
pupils, Cesare Tamaroccio, Giovanni Maria Chiodarolo,
and Amico Aspertini. To each artist was assigned two
subjects, facing each other on the two walls, and the
fact that the first and last are by Francia, who thus
began and ended the series, argues that he, and not
Costa, was still regarded as the master-spirit in the
partnership.^ Francia does not appear to such advan-
tage in these two frescoes, the Betrothal of Cecilia
and Valerian, and her Entombment, as he does in
his altarpieces. They are graceful compositions, with
charming groups of beautiful women, but somewhat
lacking in force ; of their colour it is impossible in their
present state to judge. Dr. Williamson points out that

1 Cf. G. Frizzoni, VArit ItcUiana del Rinascimento^ pp. 371 tt seq.
After the suppresion of the convent in 1805, the frescoes were
terribly neglected until their restoration by Luigi Cavenagli in


" the scenery is that of the immediate neighbourhood
of Bologna, being clearly taken from Sasso, where the
very defile at the entrance of which the scene is taking
place can be seen/' ^ Costa, for once, is the more
successful. To his lot fell the second and the ninth
scene : the conversion of Valerian by Pope Urban, and
Cecilia giving away her possessions to the poor in
anticipation of her death. They are both admirable
works, the heads being remarkably fine and full of
expression ; the scenes are laid in a beautiful landscape,
and the whole is as poetical as any Umbrian fresco,
setting forth in each a spiritual oasis of peace while the
persecution is raging outside. In the one, an atten-
dant of the Pope, leaning forward with clasped hands
in profound edification, is worthy of Florentine art at
its best ; the face and figure of a woman in the other
are curiously suggestive of Raphael.

The frescoes were hardly finished, when the long-
anticipated tempest ovenv'helmed Giovanni Bentivoglio
and all his family. Claiming Bologna as a city per-
taining to the Holy See, Julius II. excommunicated the
head of the republic with all his adherents, and
backed his spiritual fulminations with a formidable
army, composed partly of French troops. On November
2, 1506, the Bentivogli fled in the night, and, on
November 1 1 , the Pope entered Bologna in triumph.

1 0/;. cit., pp. 90, 91.


An unsuccessful attempt on the part of Giovanni^s sons
to recover the city in the following spring caused a
tumult on May 3, in which, led by Ercole Marescotti
and Camillo Gozzadini, with the connivance of the
papal legate, the populace destroyed the palace of their
former rulers and gave all its painted treasures to the

1 Cf. Gozzadini, Memorie per la vita di Giovanni II, Befitivoglio,
pp. 233-239; Ghirardacci, ill. lib. 36.




The downfall of Giovanni Bentivoglio brought the
partnership between Francia and Costa to an end.
Francia was apparently at Cesena at the time,
an-anging for the picture of the Presentation in the
Temple, still preserved in that city. There he prob-
ably niet the Pope on his advance towards Bologna,
was taken into his favour, and, if Vasari is right, re-
ceived from him the commission for the medals with
which the warrior pontiff celebrated the " liberation "^
of Bologna from her tyrant, and which he, perhaps,
distributed in his triumphal entry. He was appointed
master of the papal mint in Bologna by the Pope in
November, ] 506 (the very month of the expulsion of
Bentivoglio), and was constantly employed in casting
medals for him and his legates, including the striking
one executed for the notorious Cardinal of Pavia,
This was Francesco Alidosi, legate of Bologna in 1508,

who, a few years later, was stabbed to death in the

97 Q


streets of Ravenna by the Pope's nephew, Francesco
Maria della Rovere, Duke of Urbino.

Lorenzo Costa, who evidently felt himself eclipsed by
the greater popularity of Francia, sought new patrons
elsewhere. Annibale Bentivoglio and his wife Lucrezia,
as also Monsignor Anton Galeazzo, took refuge in
Mantua, and thither Costa soon followed them. Andrea
Mantegna, hitherto the painter of the Mantuan court,
had died that same September, leaving unfinished the
work that he had on hand for the Gonzaga in the
palace of San Sebastiano and elsewhere. On November
16, 1506, a few days after the news of the revolution
in Bologna had reached Mantua, the Marchesana Isabella
sent Costa a warm invitation, through Girolamo Casio,
to come and take Mantegna's place. Costa instantly
accepted, and by the end of the month we find him
settled at iVIantua, where he spent the nearly thirty
years of life that still remained to him. He became
the official painter of the court, and, in 1509, the

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