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.

Key facts

Artist dates
1460 - 1535
Full title
Portrait of Battista Fiera
Date made
about 1507-8
Medium and support
Oil on wood
51.4 x 38.7 cm
Acquisition credit
Bequeathed by the Misses Cohen as part of the John Samuel Collection, 1906
Inventory number
Location in Gallery