Francesco del Cossa (c. 1430 – c. 1477) was an Italian Renaissance painter of the School of Ferrara, who after 1470 worked in Bologna. Cossa is best known for his frescoes, especially his collaboration with Cosimo Tura on a cycle of the months in the Palazzo Schifanoia of the Este family, rulers of Ferrara. Otherwise, his paintings are mostly of religious subjects, with some portraits and drawings attributed to him. He also designed stained glass.
The son of a stonemason in Ferrara, little is known about his early works, although it is known that he travelled outside of Ferrara in his late twenties or early thirties.
One of the first records we have of him is in 1456 when he was an assistant to his father, Cristofano del Cossa, at that time employed in painting the carvings and statues on the high altar in the chapel of the bishop's palace at Ferrara. One of his followers was Leonardo Scaletti of Faenza.
Allegorical frescoes in the Palazzo Schifanoia
In conjunction with Cosimo Tura, Cossa is now known for fresco decoration of the summer pleasure villa/palazzo known as the Palazzo Schifanoia, located just outside the city gates. Together, they painted a series of elaborate allegories around the themes of zodiac signs and months of the year. These were only partially restored in the 20th century, and there are three that are reasonably assigned to Cossa. Of these, one of the most remarkable images is the horde of naked toddlers in the Allegory of May – Triumph of Apollo. Apparently a sign of springtime's prolific blossoming, the crowded rows of babies mass like a phalanx of infantile Rockettes.
The Allegory of April has a depiction of the trio of Graces, one of the earliest Post-classical representations of the naked intertwined dancers in painting. Sandro Botticelli's version in Primavera dates from 1482. See the 1501 version of the Three Graces (now at Chantilly). Assuming the date of death of Cossa is correct, this one must have been completed prior to the others.
Cossa in Bologna
In Bologna, he obtained many commissions under the patronage of the Bentivoglio family. Here he painted his two masterpieces: the Virgin and Child with two saints and a portrait of Alberto de' Catanei (1474) and fresco of the Madonna del Baracano, representing the Virgin and Child with portraits of Giovanni Bentivoglio and Maria Vinziguerra (1472).
In the National Gallery of London, there is a picture by him representing St. Vincent Ferrer. There is a fine profile portrait at Locko Park near Derby, said to represent Duke Ercole I of Ferrara. In the Dresden collection there is also an Annunciation.
Anthology of works
- Annunciation and Nativity (1470–1472 Dresden Gemäldegallerie alte Meister)
- Griffoni Polyptych
- St Vincent Ferrer (1473, National Gallery, London)
- St Peter (1473, Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan)
- St John the Baptist (1473, Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan)
- St Florian 1473,National Gallery of Art, Washington)
- St Lucy (1473, National Gallery of Art, Washington)
- The Crucifixion (1473, National Gallery of Art, Washington)
- St Petronius (1473, Palazzo dei Diamanti, Ferrara)
- 11 other small pictures from altarpiece (1473, ?, ?)
- Madonna with the Child and Saints (1474, Pinacoteca Nazionale, Bologna)
- Virgin and Child with an Angel (1460, Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, Barcelona)
- Frescoes for Hall of Months, Palazzo Schifanoia, Ferrara (before 1470?)
- Polyhymnia, the Muse of Many Songs
- Portrait of a Man with a ring (1472-1477, Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid)
In contemporary culture
The stained glass window was revealed to be the final answer of the Great Google Earth Treasure Hunt.
- Collection of Mediaeval and Renaissance Paintings, Volume 1, by Fogg Art Museum, page 193.
- "Saint Claire". Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza. Retrieved 2020-07-03.
- "Saint Catherine". Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza. Retrieved 2020-07-03.
- "Virgin and Child with an Angel | Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya". www.museunacional.cat. 5 December 2013. Retrieved July 7, 2020.
- Euroweb.hu Archived 2005-03-09 at the Wayback Machine
- Euroweb.hu Archived 2005-05-24 at the Wayback Machine
- "Portrait of a Man with a Ring". Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza. Retrieved 2020-07-03.
- Ali Smith 2014, How to be both. ISBN 0-241-14521-X. ISBN 978-0-241-14521-0