- Ludovico Mazzolino
By whom bequeathed to the New York Historical Society, New York, in 1870, accession no. 1867.373;
Their sale, New York, Sotheby's, 12 January 1995, lot 111;
There acquired by the present owner.
A. Venturi, "Ludovico Mazzolino," in Archivio Storico dell'Arte, 1890, p. 462;
A. Venturi and R.H. Benson, Illustrated Catalogue of the Works of the School of Ferrara-Bologna, 1440-1540, London 1894, p. 45, cat. no. 31;
G. Gruyer, L'Art Ferrarais à l'époque des Princes d'Este, Paris 1897, vol. II, p. 251;
L. Einstein and F. Monod, "Le Musée de la Société Historique de New York," in Gazette des Beaux-Arts, May 1905, p. 418;
B. Berenson, The North Italian Painters of the Renaissance, New York 1907, p. 257;
Catalogue of the Gallery of Art and New York Historical Society, New York 1915, p. 98, cat. no. B373;
B. Berenson, Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: Central Italian and North Italian Schools, London 1968, vol. I, p. 267;
S. Zamboni, Ludovico Mazzolino, Milan 1968, pp. 48-49, cat. no. 46;
H. Comstock, "Primitives from the Bryan Collection," in International Studio, vol. LXXXIV, May 1926, p. 88, cat. no. 348;
B. Fredericksen and F. Zeri, Census of Pre-Nineteenth Century Italian Paintings in North American Collections, Cambridge Mass. 1972, pp. 140, 610;
E.K. Waterhouse, "Mazzolino & C.," in Da Borso a Cesare d'Este, La Scuola di Ferrara 1450-1628, Ferrara 1985, p. 168;
L.B. Miller, "An Influence in the Air: Italian Art and American Taste in the Mid-Nineteenth Century", in The Italian Presence in American Art 1760-1860, I. Jaffe (ed.), New York 1989, p. 35, reproduced;
A. Ballarin, Dosso Dossi, La pittura a Ferrara negli anni del ducato di Alfonso I, Padua 1995, vol. I, p. 259, cat. no. 195, reproduced plate CLXXXIX.
It is thought that Mazzolino trained in Ferrara under Ercole de’ Roberti, likely moving to the Bolognese workshop of Lorenzo Costa, following Roberti’s death. By the turn of the sixteenth century, however, Ludovico Mazzolino was Ferrara’s leading painter. On 20 May 1504, the artist received payments from Duke Ercole I d’Este for his frescoes in the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli.2 When Alfonso I d’Este came to power following the death of Ercole I in 1505, Mazzolino was employed to complete decorations in the Castello Estense, including the private rooms of the duke’s wife, Lucrezia Borgia.3 The influence of Roberti and Costa was manifest for the duration of Mazzolino’s career, but more prevalent in this painting is the dramatic impact of Albrecht Dürer. Dürer’s prints were readily available in Italy and the German artist even visited Ferrara while travelling to Bologna in 1512-1513. The pure naturalism of the crumbling architecture in this painting and the pronounced muscularity of Saint Jerome, with his slightly gnarled fingers and toes, instantly recall Dürer. Yet the treatment of the background landscape is quintessentially Ferrarese. While Saint Jerome is alone in contemplation, accompanied by the lion, in the background he appears again in a small vignette, accompanied by monks. As Silla Zamboni notes, the composition of the church is so unusual as to suggest it may have been painted from life.4
Zamboni published the painting as dating to 1523, but the correct reading of the inscription as 1528 identifies this panel as one of the last to have been executed by Mazzolino before his death. Other late works include the artist’s Raising of Lazarus, in the Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan, and the Massacre of the Innocents in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, though each of these works is undated. While the exact date of Mazzolino’s death is not known, on the 27 September 1528 he executed a will, having been struck down by the plague, and in documents pertaining to his daughter’s dowry dating to the end of 1530 cite him as already deceased.5
1. G. Baruffaldi, Vite de’ pittori e scultori ferraresi, vol. I, Ferrara 1844, pp. 126-131
2. M. Grasso, “Mazzolino, Ludovico,” in Dizionario biografico degli italiani, vol. 72, 2008, online edition.
4. S. Zamboni, under Literature, p. 49.
5. M. Grasso, op. cit.