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Renaissance Art and Architecture

Cappella Bentivoglio, S. Giacomo Maggiore

Bologna in the 1400's continued to be a wealthy and influential city, but—quite unaccountably—it played only a very small role in the artistic triumphs of the Renaissance. In the quattrocento, nearby Ferrara was a great centre for painting, thanks to the unflagging enthusiasm and deep pockets of the Este dukes. One of their court artists. Cosmè Tura, had a style unto himself – a very nervous and elegant line, creating highly energized dreamlike scenes, reflected to varying degrees in the work of the other great quattrocento Ferraresi: Francesco del Cossa, Dosso Dossi, Lorenzo Costa and especially Ercole de’ Roberti. All of these left some work in Bologna and Modena.

The region did have one noteworthy achievement: sculpture and architectural reliefs in terracotta. Unlike Tuscany, marble and stone are rare in the Po Valley, but clay was abundant. Great sculptors such as Alfonso Lombardi and Antonio Begarelli are undeservedly little known outside of the area.

In architecture, Bologna was generally content to follow the fashions of Tuscany, and there was enough money around to build a fine collection of Florentine-style palaces.

Text © Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls

Images by: Michele Ursino