FERRARI, Defendente
(b. ca. 1485, Chivasso, d. after 1540)


Italian painter. It has been established through connoisseurship that he trained in the workshop of Giovanni Martino Spanzotti, who, after his move to Chivasso c. 1502, dominated painting in western Piedmont for some 30 years. Many of the works previously thought to have been by Spanzotti are now attributed to Defendente.

Ferrari painted in the Northern Italian province of Piedmont during the first third of the 16th century. He was Raphael's contemporary but paid as little heed to Rome as he did to Florence or Venice. His conservative taste was more in tune with the style of the Provencal, German or Netherlandish painters.

The polyptych of the Virgin and Child with Saints (c. 1505; Biella, S Sebastiano) is clearly deeply indebted to Spanzotti, yet Defendente's Virgin Enthroned with Saints (1505-07; Turin Cathedral), which is surrounded by 18 small panels depicting legends of SS Crispin and Crispianus, shows that he was also influenced by the highly ornamental qualities of Late Gothic art, a northern European style that persisted in the area around Turin into the early years of the 16th century. Defendente's elaboration of that style is again apparent in his nocturnal Nativity (before 1508; Cambridge, MA, Fogg museum of Art), and it can also be seen in a succeeding group that includes a Nativity (1510; Turin, Museo Civico di Arte Antica) that is almost a miniature version of the earlier one.