Giovanni Francesco Bezzi NOSADELLA

Bologna 1530 - Bologna 1571


Very little is known of the life of Giovanni Francesco Bezzi, known as Nosadella (apparently after the name of the street on which he lived in Bologna), and the biography of the artist by Carlo Cesare Malvasia lists only two dated works. These are the frescoes executed in 1558 for the Palazzo Bolognetti in Bologna, now lost, and a painting of The Circumcision for the Bolognese church of Santa Maria Maggiore, left unfinished at the artist’s death in 1571 and subsequently completed by Prospero Fontana. Malvasia records that Nosadella was a pupil of Pellegrino Tibaldi, and paintings by the two artists have often been confused, with the former long regarded as a mere follower of Tibaldi. However, recent studies of Nosadella’s work have led to a new appreciation of the artist as one of the most unique and original painters of the 16th century in Bologna, where he was first registered as a painter in 1549. The bulk of his activity seems to have been as a fresco painter working in various Bolognese palaces, although almost nothing of his work of this type survives. As Malvasia notes, ‘Those few works by him that are known – and they are mostly frescoes – are distinguished by their good colour (un buon colore), as with his master, and are full of erudition. And if they are not as perfect and studied, they are perhaps more powerful (terribili), singular, and resolute.’ A rare surviving example of this type of mural decoration are the frescoed scenes from the story of Susanna in the Palazzo Poggi in Bologna, dating to between 1554 and 1556, on which Nosadella worked alongside Tibaldi.

Paintings and drawings by Nosadella remain very rare today. A handful of significant paintings by the artist have in recent years been acquired by American museums, notably an Annunciation now in the Princeton University Art Museum, a Holy Family with Saints Anne, Mary Magdalene and Catherine in the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles and a Presentation in the Temple in the Allen Memorial Art Museum in Oberlin, Ohio.