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Dosso Dossi: Court Painter in Renaissance Ferrara

From 1514 to 1542, Dosso Dossi was official painter to the court of Ferrara, one of the most enlightened centres of the Italian High Renaissance. His accomplished allegorical works and landscapes were very highly regarded--in 1568 Vasari, the leading critic of his time, described him as the greatest landscape painter in northern Italy. This book catalogues almost all Dosso's surviving paintings, brought together in exhibitions by the Metropolitan Musuem in New York and Getty Museum in Los Angeles. The authors use Dosso's work to demonstrate changing ideas during the Renaissance about the nature of art and the creative process of the individual artist. A wonderful example is Dosso's painting of Jupiter, Mercury, and Virtue where Mercury ensures that Jupiter is not disturbed as he paints butterfly wings. Dosso was controversial in his time for painting directly onto a canvas without preparatory drawings. And the catalogue includes X-rays of the paintings that show how Dosso changed his compositions: it is fascinating to see his thought-processes revealed directly in the layers of paint themselves. While recognising that Dosso was a "slightly lesser genius" than Raphael or Michelangelo, or even Titian, who also worked at Ferrara, the catalogue is an enchanting window on a highly cultured artistic community in 16th-century Italy. Like so many publications by The Metropolitan Museum, this will be the standard work on its subject for a long time to come. --John Stevenson

Important places

Ferrara (43)


Ferrara (44)


Italy (5,202)

Other geographical areas

Europe (50,240)
Southern Europe (7,119)