Ferrara, Bologna and Milan
The Este dukes of Ferrara were active patrons of local artists. During the early 16th century, Lodovico Mazzolino and Garofalo built upon the style and motifs of their predecessors at the Este court, with their emphasis on literary subject matter, expressive line and jewel-like colour. Later, exposure to Raphael ’s paintings encouraged Garofalo to adopt a more classical style. The most original talent in Ferrara was the court painter Dosso Dossi. His striking interpretations of traditional religious subjects reveal his poetic feeling for effects of light in landscape.
There was much interaction between Ferrara and Bologna. Although Bologna was a papal possession, the local Bentivoglio family dominated its political and artistic life. The Ferrara-born Lorenzo Costa was the favoured painter of the would-be ruler Giovanni Bentivoglio, who imitated his Este ducal neighbours by employing Ferrarese artists. The Bolognese Francesco Francia , a painter and goldsmith, was famed for the pious sweetness and calm balance of his religious paintings.
Although the Sforza family was routed from Milan by the French in 1499, their five decades of rule were felt well into the 16th century. Leonardo da Vinci’s residence in the city 1483–1499, most of which was spent as court artist to Duke Ludovico il Moro, saw him develop crucially as an artist, among other things painting his famous Last Supper there between 1492 and 1498.
Leonardo came to exert an enourmous influence on subsequent generations of Lombard artists. Ambrogio de Predis was his business partner during his early years in Milan and came to adapt his innovations in modelling the figure. Marco d’Oggiono served in Leonardo’s studio in the 1490s and was profoundly affected by his chiaroscuro. As was Bernardino Luini , who became the city’s most famous painter in the early decades, and helped shape Lombard painting for the new century.