BEMBO, Bonifazio
(active in Brescia and Cremona 1444-1477)


Italian painter, part of a family of artists, brother of Benedetto Bembo. In an undated letter Bonifazio recalled his support for Francesco Sforza's cause in Reggio Emilia and Brescia during the conflict between Milan and Venice in 1447. By 1455 he was in the service of the Sforza family, although the exact nature of his work is not recorded. The following year he was called to Pavia to carry out a number of commissions, including touching up and repainting a hunting fresco dating from the time of the Visconti, the previous rulers of Lombardy, in the castle's great hall. Work was slow and in 1458 the artist was ordered to take on assistants to complete the job more quickly.

His paintings include the frescoes of the church of Sant'Agostino di Cremona in Cremona and the portrait of Francesco I Sforza and his wife Bianca Maria Visconti (both from 1462), now in the Pinacoteca di Brera of Milan. He also painted for the cloister of La Colomba at Cremona. Bembo is usually considered the author of one of the famous Visconti-Sforza tarot decks, whose symbolism reflects his interest in Neoplatonism.

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