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Costa Lorenzo (Italian 1460 - 1535)

Lorenzo Costa (1460 – March 5, 1535) was an Italian painter of the Renaissance. He was born at Ferrara, but moved to Bologna by the his early twenties, and would be more influential to the Bolognese school of painting. However, many artists worked in both nearby cities, and thus others consider him a product of the School of Ferrara. There are claims that he trained with Cosimo Tura.In 1483 he painted his famous Madonna and Child with the Bentivoglio family, and other frescoes, on the walls of the Bentivoglio chapel in San Giacomo Maggiore, and he followed this with many other works.

Born in Ferrara, Costa became known within the Bolognese School of painting, but also within the School of Ferrara painters. Both Schools of painting have strong ties with several artists considered active within both styles. It is mentioned that Costa trained with one of the founders of the Ferrara School, Cosimo Tura (1430 – 1495). Ferrara, Costa traveled to Bologna, he befriended the painter, Francia (1450 – 1517) and then traveled on to the city of Mantua. His was a collaborator with Francia, also with other important Ferrarese painters such as Cosimo Tura (1430 – 1495), as well as Dosso Dossi (1490 – 1542) and Ludovico Mazzolino (1480 – 1528), both of whom he trained. 

Some of his best remembered early work was done mostly in Bologna, especially in the Bentivoglio Chapel of the San Giacomo Maggiore. Costa’s portrait of Giovanni Bentivoglio is in the Uffizi Gallery; historically, Giovanni is known as the tyrant of Bologna, having no official rule of the city, but taking it by force. Costa’s portrait shows influences the Venetian painters and also the Sicilian painter, Antonello da Messina (1430 – 1479).

The Bentivoglio family was prominent in Bologna, but was expelled to Ferrara by Pope Julius II (1443 – 1513) under the invasion of King Louis XII (1462 -1515) of France. Costa did not follow his troubled patron and instead left for Mantua by invitation the city’s ruler, Francesco II Gonzaga (1466 – 1519). Costa found a gainful position as court painter there, succeeding the great Andrea Mantegna (1431 – 1506)

Costa’s other painting in the Uffizi Gallery is his depiction of, Saint Sebastian, a work of noted controversy. It is claimed to be a work of substantial beauty the Northern Italian painters, other critics find it to be an average depiction, unimpressed by the Sebastian’s facial expression. Though, most critics agree that the work is an undeniable accomplishment in its beauty of form. 

Costa’s sons, Ippolito and Girolamo were both painters as well, as was Girolamo’s son, Lorenzo the younger.

He was a great friend of Francesco Francia, who was much influenced by him. In 1509 he went to Mantua, his patron was the Marquis Francesco Gonzaga, and he eventually died there. His Madonna and Child enthroned is in the National Gallery, London, but his chief works are at Bologna.

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