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Ortolano Ferrarese

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Painter of the Ferrara School, b. in Ferrara, about 1490; d. about 1525. His real name was Giovanni Battista Benvenuti, and he was called L'Ortolano because his father, Francisco, was a gardener. Of his career little is known, save that he was a diligent student of the works of Raphael and Bagnacavallo in 1512-13 in Bologna. His masterpiece, a picture of rich colour and fine draughtsmanship, representing Saint Sebastian, Saint Roch, and Saint Demetrius, is in the National Gallery, London. It was brought from the church of Bondeno near Ferrara in 1844, and purchased by the gallery in 1861. In the cathedral at Ferrara are other works attributed to him, which later critics have given to Garofalo, but in some of the smaller churches of Ferrara, those of San Niccolò, the Servi, and San Lorenzo, there are pictures which may be readily accepted as his. His work so resembles that of Garofalo that there is a never-ceasing controversy between the critics who accept the respective claims of each, and nearly as much dispute has arisen over his works as over those of Giorgione. There is a fine picture usually accepted as his, in the possession of Lord Wimborne in England, and this shows very strongly the influence upon the painter of Lorenzo Costa. Two of his paintings are in the gallery at Ferrara, and others at Naples and Berlin, while there are several similar works in private possession in Ferrara.

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