Lorenzo Costa was one of the greatest artists of the schools of Ferrara and Mantua. He worked between the second half of the fifteenth century and the first decades of the sixteenth century.

After having been in Florence, in 1483 he moved to Bologna where the scene was dominated by Francesco Francia and Amico Aspertini, artists with whom he was to compete for major commissions including the fresco decoration of the Oratory of Santa Cecilia in Bologna. The wooden panel, signed and dated 1502, represents St. Petronius seated on a tall throne, holding a model of the city of Bologna, between St. Francis showing the wound in his side and St. Dominic with the book and the lily.

The image probably represents a sort of desire for “pacification” between the Franciscans and Dominicans, who had always been rivals, thanks to the intercession of St. Petronius.

Painted at the base of the throne is an Adoration of the Magi in monochrome faux bas-relief.

One striking aspect is the painter’s decision to once again use a typically medieval gilded background, which had been abandoned since the early Renaissance to make room for architectural and landscape views.


But, despite this archaic choice, attention to naturalistic elements, such as the faces and proportions of the figures or the details of the model of the city, connotes the work in a fully Renaissance sense.