«Ho cominciato ad avere un pocho di nome»
A new monograph on Francesco del Cossa (Ferrara, 1436 – Bologna, 1478)

Davide Civettini | Studioso associato

«Ho cominciato ad avere un pocho di nome» (transl. «I started to get some fame»). These are the words with which Francesco del Cossa (Ferrara, 1436 - Bologna, 1478) claimed his notoriety and artistic value in a letter to Borso d'Este, Duke of Ferrara, in March 1470. This letter, a protest against the meagre remuneration Cossa received for his work, is an invaluable document as it represents one of the very first claims to artistic dignity in the entire history of Western Art.

This PhD project aims to reconsider Cossa’s life and work by drawing up a new monograph complete with a catalogue raisonné and documentary register. It aims to fill the outstanding gaps in the painter’s biography and resolve other issues that previous studies have left unaddressed. It thus investigates the artistic and cultural context in which Cossa worked: not only that of Ferrara, his native city, but also that of Bologna, where he was active for most of his life, and that of Florence. Of utmost importance, in fact, is to understand the dynamics, timing and consequences of his probable stay in Florence in the years of his early activity, between about 1456 and around 1469, for which we have no documented works or archival evidence. Cossa’s presence in the Tuscan city is, however, attested by certain elements in his Bolognese works and in the style of some contemporary Florentine artists, suggesting the artist from Ferrara was a fundamental intermediary between the artistic civilisations of the Po Valley area and that of Tuscany.

A monographic study of this kind therefore implies the application of different approaches, each of which can bring new answers as well as offer the pretext for new historical, critical and social questions.



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