Allegorical figure of Cosimo Tura

Allegorical figure of Cosimo Tura
Allegorical figure of Cosimo Tura

This painting owned by the National Gallery in London is one of the works that have come down to us from the Italian Cosimo Tura (1430 – 1495) considered one of the most important painters of the School of Ferrara during the fifteenth century. In fact, he was the first important painter in Ferrara and therefore worked for many years for thefamily d’ Este, the ducal dynasty that ruled the city


Allegorical figure of Cosimo Tura

His style is characterized by several elements that are well present in this oil-painted table. Cosimo Tura undoubtedly creates very sophisticated images, with very strong and somewhat artificial colors. But even with this fanciful tone, he knows how to give his figures solemnity and even some realism.

In this case it is possibly a representation of Caliope, which was part of a set of paintings that Cosimo Tura painted for Leonello d' East to place them in the Villa Belfiore, outside of town. Specifically in his studiolo, a private area, which the owner wanted to decorate with the image of the 9 muses of antiquity.

For this I would count on the work of various painters, including Tura. The truth is that he painted on a board already used, and according to some historians he did not paint Calliope, but represented another muse,Euterpe. Hence, in the cataloging of theNational Gallery in London appears with the title of Allegorical Figure without identifying the character.

On the other hand, in that museum they have done several radiological studies not only to see what he had painted underneath, but also to analyze the technique. And they have discovered that Tura uses elements of oil painting very typical of flemish painting, and more specifically of Rogier van der Weyden. He makes mixtures of oils with pigments that are not usual among Italian artists, perhaps that is the reason for the spectacular color of his works.

Curiously, the Italian painter never left his country. At most he was able to travel to Padua, where he would make contact withMantegna, with whom he also has stylistic ties. However, van der Weyden did visit Italy and even worked for Leonello d’Este. So perhaps they could coincide or at least Cosimo Tura could see in person the art of the Flemish painter. In addition to the fact that there were followers of his who remained in Ferrara.

In short, we are dealing with a painter who is probably not the most emblematic of theItalian Quattrocento, but he is a very good artist and a wonderful example of the interrelationships that existed in the time, both creatively and technically. In addition to the fact that Tura's paintings have their own personality thanks to his overflowing fantasy and his taste for realistic detail, a very unique fusion, as well as his way of uniting the artistic precepts of the Renaissancewith theecho of a certain gothic art. I mean, he's a very interesting artist.

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