MONTORFANO, Giovanni Donato da
(b. ca. 1460, Milano, d. ca. 1503, Milano)
Italian painter, part of a family of painters.
Paolino da Montorfano (active 1402-1430 in Milan) worked in Milan Cathedral as a painter and as a painter of stained glass. Abramo (di Alberto) da Montorfano (active 1430-1438 in Milan), in 1430 also employed in Milan Cathedral, apparently worked regularly for the Visconti and was a member of the painters' guild, as was his son Alberto (di Abramo) de Montorfano (active c. 1450-1481 in Milan). Giovanni da Montorfano (active 1452-1470) worked in Milan Cathedral in 1452 and 1454, and in Genoa from 1457; a signed St Martin and the Beggar exists (private collection).
Giovanni Donato (di Alberto) da Montorfano, who may have been active from the late 1470s, is best known for his fresco of the Crucifixion (signed and dated 1495; Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan). It is likely that Giovanni Donato's brother Vincenzo (di Alberto) da Montorfano (d. after 1484) was also a painter and that the pair first worked with their father Alberto. One of Giovanni Donato's three sons, Alberto (di Giovanni Donato) da Montorfano (c. 1491-1524) was also a painter, though none of his works has been identified. In 1513 Bernardino (or Bernardo) da Montorfano was a painter in Genoa.
Both Giovanni Donato and his brother Vincenzo were raised and taught by their father to continue on the family tradition of painting. Several frescoes in San Pietro in Gessate, Milan, in the chapels of St Anthony, St John the Baptist and the Virgin, are attributed to Giovanni Donato, but their dating and attribution are problematic; his hand is most plausibly seen in the St Anthony frescoes. Frescoes of scenes from the Life of St Catherine in Santa Maria delle Grazie, long attributed to him, have recently been tentatively reassigned to Cristoforo de Mottis (active 1461; d. 1493). Four fresco fragments of saints (Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, Milan) are from around the same time as the Crucifixion.