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Italian Renaissance Learning Resources

In collaboration with the National Gallery of Art


Dosso Dossi and his less talented younger brother Battista Dossi were the leading painters at the court of Ferrara under Alfonso I d’Este and Ercole II d’Este. Most of their documented work for the court was ephemeral in character and is now lost. It included frescoes for the various ducal residences; designs for tapestries, theatre sets, festival decorations, banners, coins and tableware; the decoration and varnishing of carriages and barges. However, there survives a considerable number of easel paintings attributable to the brothers, either singly or in collaboration; and a relatively high proportion of these are allegorical or mythological in content, in a way that clearly reflects the wider cultural interests of the Ferrarese court. Although responsive to a wide range of outside influences, the most important of which were probably those of Giorgione in Venice and Raphael in Rome, Dosso was an artist of great originality with a strong feeling for effects of light and of glowing colour, and for the poetic quality of landscape.

Peter Humfrey