(b. 1520, Bologna, d. 1595, Milano)


Italian painter. He studied with Prospero Fontana and the two artists worked together in Rome in 1551. Active in Parma before 1560 and during part of that decade, in 1569 Ercole is documented back in Bologna, where a number of his altarpieces survive. The Virgin and Child with the Four Patron Saints of Bologna (1570; Bologna, San Giovanni in Monte) is a simple, symmetrical composition. Later in the 1570s his work became more sophisticated. His best-known altarpiece, the Conversion of Saul (1573; Bologna, San Giacomo Maggiore), is heavy yet elegant, reflecting the influence of central Italian Mannerism, as represented in Bologna by Lorenzo Sabbatini and Orazio Samacchini.

Ercole established an Academy at Milan, which became celebrated in his time, and, besides his own sons (Carlo Antonio, Giulio Cesare and Camillo) turned out distinguished artists of the Milan school.