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Lorenzo Costa: 'Portrait of Battista Fiera'
The sitter is identified as the Mantuan poet and writer on medicine Battista Fiera (about 1465 - 1538) by an old tradition; this picture was the source for an engraved portrait of Fiera that appeared as the frontispiece to his 'Coena' ('The Supper') in 1649.

The inscription - once legible on the parapet (and still partially visible in infra-red photographs) - was recorded on the reverse of the picture, presumably when its legibility was deteriorating. This picture was probably painted within a few years of Costa's arrival in Mantua in 1507. Costa suffered from syphilis in about 1507-8, and may have sought the services of the Gonzaga court physician (possibly painting this portrait in return for treatment received), who seems to be about the right age for the portrait to have been painted in these years.

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