Luxury Tuscany villa rental with art gallery and Ercole de' Roberti's painting

Ercole de' Roberti

Ercole de' Roberti at Villa Tuscany

The Italian Early Renaissance artist Ercole de' Roberti (c. 1451 – 1496), also known as Ercole da Ferrara or Ercole Ferrarese, was from the painting school of Ferrara. Ercole held the honorable position of court artist for the noble Este family in Ferrara. He was deemed important enough to be included in Giorgio Vasari's first art historical biography of The Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors and Architects, an essential source for information on Renaissance artists’ lives.

Vasari wrote: “Ercole had an extraordinary love of wine, and his frequent drunkenness did much to shorten his life, which he had enjoyed without any accident up to the age of forty, when he was smitten one day by apoplexy, which made an end of him in a short time.”

As a result of his short life, paintings by Ercole are rare since many were also destroyed. By the age of 17, Ercole left Ferrara and was working in Bologna in the studio of Francesco del Cossa, with whom he collaborated in the magnificent frescoes of Palazzo Schifanoia in Ferrara.

Ercole executed his first mature works in Bologna (in San Petronio Basilica) and nearby Ravenna (large altarpiece for Santa Maria in Porto in Ravenna, now housed in the Brera, Milan). Superb Quattrocento profile portraits of Bologna rulers Giovanni II Bentivoglio and Ginevra Bentivoglio attributed to Ercole de' Roberti (c. 1480) are today in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

In 1486 Ercole succeeded Cosmè Tura as court painter to the Este family in his hometown of Ferrara. As court artist he was invited to use his creative powers for varied duties, including designing the wardrobe for Isabella d'Este's wedding in Mantua. Other rare works by Ercole can be found in the United States including a painting of Portia and Brutus (c. 1486-90), believed to be painted for the Duchess of Ferrara, in the Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas as well as Ercole's painting of Saint Jerome in the Wilderness in the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.

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