FRANCIA, Francesco
(b. 1450, Bologna, d. 1517, Bologna)

Madonna and Child with the Infant St John the Baptist

c. 1500
Panel, 57 x 43,7 cm
Szépmûvészeti Múzeum, Budapest

The works of the Bolognese School are perhaps the most lyrical and emotional of fifteenth-century Italian paintings. The adherents of the school, headed by Francesco Francia, tried above all to achieve a tender, poetic manner of expression and to evoke atmosphere. They were much less interested in revolutionary ways of representing nature than their colleagues of Florence, Ferrara or Padua, and in composing their works they were for the most part content to use traditional types and well-proven solutions.

Francesco Francia began his career as a goldsmith and we can discern in his paintings the brilliant technique and dexterity of the craftsman. Working as a pupil of Francesco del Cossa in his native town of Bologna, he was especially admired for his representations of the Virgin in which a gentle and charming Mary is seen against a delicate, atmospheric landscape. His preference was for the Sacra Conversazione, showing the Virgin surrounded by a group of saints - a devout but static type of composition, devoid of narrative.