Italian Painting – Ferrarese School


Characteristics.— Early painting, influenced by the early Paduan School, of minor importance ; later allied to the Bolognese School and influential in the art of central Italy. Early style, stiff, mannered, with close rendering of detail ; later, full of sentiment and refinement, excelling in chiaroscuro and color ; fine landscape backgrounds.

Subjects sacred and mythological.


Cosimo Tura (1420-1495) was probably a pupil of Squarcione, of the Paduan School. His work is quaint, full of anatomical coarseness, and labored in detail, but is usually correct in drawing and gives the impression of life and energy. When architecture is introduced, it is fantastic and much ornamented by colored marbles and even metals.

His color is crude (yellows, reds, and greens predominating) and lacks harmony ; his draperies are very strongly marked and angular.

Most important works :

Annunciation,” ” St. George and the Dragon,” and ” St. Jerome.” Gallery, Ferrara.

” Madonna and Saints.” Berlin Museum.

” Dead Christ.” Louvre, Paris.

Madonna with sleeping Child and Saints.” National Gallery, London.

Francesco Cossa (was painting 1450—1474) was a stronger painter than Cosimo Tura. Leaving Ferrara in middle life, he went to Bologna and there influenced and was influenced by the Bolognese School.

His pictures are marked by originality and strength, and show a higher development of all art qualities than do those of Tura. His draperies are well arranged ; his color soft and his detail less painfully rendered.

Representative works:

Altar-piece. Gallery, Bologna.

” Twelve Apostles.” San Petronio, Bologna.

” St. Vincentius Ferrer.” National Gallery, London.

Ercole Roberti de’ Grandi (was painting 1475—1496) is very imperfectly known. His work shows the influence of Mantegna of the Paduan School, and of Giovanni Bellini of the Venetian. It is supposed that he accompanied Cossa to Bologna.

Few pictures are surely known to be his, but these are fine in design and execution ; critics are much interested in studying him at present.

Works thought to be authentic:

Drawing, ” Massacre of the Innocents.” Louvre, Paris.

Altar-piece. Brera Gallery, Milan.

” Gathering of the Manna,” “Christ on the way to Golgotha,”

” Taking down from the Cross.” Gallery, Dresden.

Lorenzo Costa (1455 ?—1535) is one of the principal representatives of this school as influenced by the Bolognese. He spent most of his life in Bologna, and there gained great influence over Francia, with whom he painted (see Bolognese School).

He was a more refined painter than his predecessors, though his earliest works show the hard outlines, crude color, and stiff figures of Cosimo Tura ; his later ones are delicate in drawing, excellent in color, soft in light and shade and detail.

His sentiment is of a high order, even tending toward the poetic. It reminds one of Perugino (Roman School).

His landscape backgrounds are particularly pleasing, showing softly swelling valleys and distant blue mountains, and are enlivened by incidents.

He painted some good portraits.

Representative works :

Altar-pieces. San Giovanni in Monte, Bologna.

Paintings in Chapel of St. Cecilia, Bologna.

Altar-piece. Academy, Bologna.

” Court of Isabella d’Este” (an allegory). Louvre, Paris. Several pictures in Berlin Museum.

Francesco Bianchi (1510) is especially interesting in the history of painting, because he, in 1480, established himself in Modena, where he founded a school, which produced Correggio.

His work resembles in its detail that of Costa and Roberti de’ Grandi, but his color and chiaroscuro are more delicate. Representative works :

“Annunciation.” Gallery, Modena. Altar-piece. Louvre, Paris.

Ercole Grandi di Giulio Cesare (- 1531) was a pupil in the school of Lorenzo Costa and Francia, at Bologna, but was influenced most strongly by Costa. His figures are very refined, graceful, and pleasing, but he was of comparatively little importance in the development of the Ferrarese School.

Representative works :

Eight pictures in tempera, formerly in Constabili Collection, Ferrara, now scattered ; two are in collection of Sir Henry Layard, Venice; four in private collection, Milan ; one in Gallery, Bergamo ; and one in England.

Pietà ” and St. Sebastian.” Gallery, Ferrara.


Dosso Dossi (Giovanni di Lutero, 1479-1542), of Ferrara, was in his later work influenced by the Venetian masters. Although his pictures are distinctively Ferrarese, yet they surpass all former ones of his school in richness of color and a certain luxuriousness of sentiment.

He painted many mythological and fanciful subjects, placing his figures in particularly fine landscape settings.

He also excelled in portraits, many of which are worthy rivals of Titian’s.

Representative works :

Altar-piece. ” Madonna and Saints.” Gallery, Ferrara.

“Coronation of Virgin,” ” St. George,” “Archangel Michael war-ring against Satan.” Gallery, Dresden.

” Bacchanal.” Pitti Gallery, Florence.

” Circe.” Borghese Gallery, Rome.

Portraits. Gallery, Modena.

” St. Sebastian.” Brera Gallery, Milan.

Garofalo (Benvenuto Tisi, 1481-1559), so called from the town of his birth, was at first strongly influenced by the greater Ferrarese artists ; later he visited Rome and fell under the influence of Raphael. His early works are his strongest, as his Roman manner is marked by a fondness for quiet beauty of expression that is often mannered and insipid. He was called by his countrymen the Ferrarese Raphael.

Characteristics. — He often introduced a choir of singing angels in the air. His coloring is less pure and strong than that of Dosso Dossi; he had a fondness for putting somewhere in the picture a peculiar light straw color.

His landscape backgrounds are always Ferrarese ; a mannerism in many of them is a peculiar distribution of light and color ; a yellow streak of sunshine runs straight through the middle distance, while the sky is dull red towards the horizon.

Very many of this artist’s works (mostly small easel pictures) are in the European galleries.

Representative works :

Series of Pictures, Gallery, Ferrara.

Descent from the Cross,” ” Adoration of the Shepherds.” Borghese Gallery, Rome.

“Salutation,” ” Adoration of the Child.” Doria Gallery, Rome. ” Madonna in Glory.” Academy, Venice.

Mythological Pictures. Gallery, Dresden.

” Madonna and Child with Saints.” National Gallery, London.

Correggio (Antonio Allegri, 1494-1534), so called from his birthplace, a little town near Modena, is an artist concerning whose youth and study much has been said and little known. By highest authority at present time, he is considered to have been early a pupil of Bianchi at Modena, and later to have entered the studio of Costa and Francia at Bologna. His earliest works show the influence of these painters. He became one of the greatest Italian masters of painting, and his best pictures are as much sought after as are those of Raphael and Titian.

He led a singularly quiet and restricted life, wholly separate from all competition with other masters of his time. Many of his notable religious paintings were executed in Parma, whither he went by invitation. Afterward he re-turned to the little town where he was born, and died there.

Though the style of Correggio had much influence upon the art of northern Italy, yet he does not seem to have had any very distinguished scholars. They all, striving to paint like their master, without possessing his genius, fell into a disagreeable mannerism.

Every important European gallery has examples of his work. Characteristics. — Subjects religious and mythological.

Composition quiet and simple, save in large church pictures, where it is somewhat conventional.

Correggio was a worshipper of physical beauty, particularly that of women and children, and no one can study his pictures without feeling that, whatever the subjects, they were painted, first of all, to express this beauty.

To portray charm, not character, was his mission. In this he is more closely allied to the Venetian School, as seen in Giorgione and Titian, than to any other.

His figures always express joy ; they are in motion, or just on the verge of it. In this grace of motion he surpasses all other masters.

His chiaroscuro, at its best, rivals that of Leonardo da Vinci. His flesh shadows are so transparent that one seems to look through them and see the very texture of the flesh.

His color vies with the Venetian in beauty, but is more Ferrarese in pure, simple brilliance ; he was very fond of a certain beautiful blue, which marks many of his pictures.

His type of faces recalls that of Leonardo. It has been said that only two artists have ever painted the smile of woman Leonardo and Correggio ; but the difference is great between the two smiles. Leonardo’s is full of subtility, is the expression of something deep in the life and character, while Correggio’s is as transparent as the light ; it is simply the joy of existence. He was no deep student of human nature.

His women’s hands are peculiarly beautiful, slender, and restless. His children’s heads have usually an exaggerated forehead and an abundance of curly hair. Their faces express archness, sometimes roguery.

Most important works:

FRESCOES. Convent of S. Paolo, Parma.

FRESCOES. Cupolas of Duomo and S. Giovanni, Parma.

” Madonna della Scodella,” ” Il Giorno.” Gallery, Parma.

” Madonna and Child.” Uffizi Gallery, Florence.

” La Danae.” Borghese Gallery, Rome.

Madonna (” La Zingarella “). Gallery, Naples.

” Madonna of St. Francis,” ” Madonna of St. Sebastian,” ” La Notte,” one of the twelve pictures sometimes called ” World Pictures.” 1 Dresden Gallery. All the light in the last picture proceeds from the child. It bathes with radiance the face of the happy mother, who bends over her babe, and dazzles the eyes of the wondering shepherds.

The celebrated ” Reading Magdalen,” Dresden Gallery, so long attributed to Correggio, is now, by best authorities, believed to be the work of some Flemish painter.

” Jupiter and Antiope,” ” Marriage of St. Catherine.” Louvre, Paris.

” La Viérge au Panier,” “Ecce Homo,” ” Education of Cupid.” National Gallery, London.

Parmigiano (Francesco Mazzuoli, 1504—1540) is one of the most noted of Correggio’s followers, but falls far behind his master. Only Correggio could be great in his own peculiar sphere of art.

Parmigiano’s Madonnas and saints possess little charm, though his color is clear and warm and his drawing good. His figures are marked by very long limbs and necks. His portraits are better than his ideal pictures. Representative works :

” Moses Breaking the Tables of the Law.” Madonna della Steccata, Parma.

” Marriage of St. Catherine.” Gallery, Parma.

“Madonna delle collo longo” (with the long neck). Pitti Gallery, Florence.

Madonna with St. Margaret.” Gallery, Bologna.

Altar-piece. National Gallery, London.

Portraits. Museum, Naples ; Uffizi Gallery, Florence ; Gallery, Vienna ; and Madrid Gallery.