The Bentivogli's Favourite Painter
Born in Ferrara, Lorenzo Costa (c. 1460–1535) was trained in the Renaissance Ferrarese school, along with Cosmè Tura and Ercole de' Roberti. Later he traveled to Florence and studied under that most happy soul of the early Renaissance, Benozzo Gozzoli.
In 1485, Costa moved to Bologna and became a favourite of the Bentivoglio family, gradually adopting a softer, sappier style more pleasing to Bolognese tastes, bland and lifeless at its worst, graceful and tenderly melancholic at its best. He was a good friend of Il Francia. He frescoed the Bentivoglio family chapel in 1488 in San Giacomo Maggiore and left altarpieces in San Petronio; other works are in the Pinacoteca Nazionale.
Rather than follow the Bentivolgio clan into exile in In 1509, after the death of Andrea Mantegna, Costa moved to Mantua to become the court painter for the art-loving court of Francesco II Gonzaga and Isabella d'Este.
Today perhaps, Costa is best known for a little painting on wood called Il Concerto, in the National Gallery (London). This lovely scene of three singers has become an icon of the Renaissance and its humanist aspirations.