Cosmè Tura

Eccentric Renaissance Stylist

St Anthony of Padua, by Tura

Son of a shoemaker, Cosmè Tura (c. 1430–95) became court painter for the Este family in Ferrara for over thirty years, and probably worked with Lorenzo Costa. He was the teacher of Francesco del Cossa.

Equally influenced by Andrea Mantegna and Piero della Francesco, he turned the one’s precise line and the other’s infatuation with geometric volumes in dreamlike space into one of the most intense and eccentric styles of the quattrocento; his St Anthony of Padua (1490) in the Galleria Estense is a perfect example: the background looks more stylized Chinese than Italian Renaissance. His most charming frescoes are the allegories he painted with del Cossa in the Este pleasure dome, the Palazzo Schifanoia in Ferrara.

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