COSSA, Francesco del
(b. ca. 1435, Ferrara, d. ca. 1477, Bologna)

Allegory of March: Triumph of Minerva

Fresco, 500 x 320 cm
Palazzo Schifanoia, Ferrara

The Salone dei Mesi (Room of Months) in the Palazzo Schifanoia, one of the masterpieces of Italian palace architecture, was decorated with a series of allegorical frescoes symbolizing the months. The length of the room is 24 m, the width 11 m and the height 7,5 m. The frescoes are attributed to Cosme Tura, Francesco del Cossa, Baldassare d'Este and Ercole de' Roberti.

On the southern wall January and February, on the eastern wall March, April and May, on the north wall June, July, August and September, on the west wall October, November and December were represented. Due to negligence it was in a very bad state already in the 18th century. Today there remained only fragments of the frescoes on the southern and western walls, while those on the eastern wall and most on the northern are in relatively good condition. This means that the visitor can view the surviving allegories of seven months (March, April, May, June July, August and September).

In all allegories the episodes are arranged in a three-tiered, frieze-like manner; in the upper sphere, the sphere of mythology, each month and its planet are paralleled by their ancient divinity in a triumphal procession. The middle layer shows the signs of the zodiac, while below are rendered the courtly events appropriate to the particular time of year.

In the allegory of March the Triumph of Minerva is represented on the upper layer. In the centre of it there is the goddess, on the left a group of poets and magistrates, on the right women with symbols of feminine labour. The middle layer represents the zodiac sign Aries, while the lower layer depicts a hunting scene.

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