Benvenuto Tisi da Garofalo

Hey guys! I was recently found the works of an artist online whom I’ve never heard about. His name is Benvenuto Tisi. He was an Late Italian Renaissance painter. In addition, his work tends to show influence of mannerism, a Renaissance art style that messed with what’s expected in art (making things exaggerated and excessive/extensive).

There are two artworks by him that I wanted to talk about; however, there isn’t a lot of information published on him, both online and through scholarly works. Therefore, much of this information is going to be about the subject matter. Other things may be guesswork because I only have the pictures to work from.

Madonna with the Child, 1513


This is a typical painting of the Virgin and Child (and it’s super beautiful). Here Mary is holding the Christ child, who has a triangular halo on his head (possibly a reference to the Holy Spirit, God the father, and God the son). Mary also has a halo that’s circular. What’s interesting here is that Christ the Child is not blessing the world (like he usually does). Instead, Christ looks like he’s ready to walk and roam around, while Mary is holding, protecting, and guiding him (like a mother does). On the other hand, Christ may also be pointing to Mary’s cloak. Possibly to show Mary’s blue cloak symbolizing Heaven, divinity, and purity.

Also, there is a landscape background to Mary’s right. I’m not sure who or what influenced Tisi’s background. I know that many Northern Renaissance artists had landscape backgrounds, especially Flemish artists, in their works. So Tisi may have been influenced by Northern renaissance works. Or maybe the school he was involved with, the School of Ferrara, emphasized landscape backgrounds.

In all, this painting is very beautiful and elaborate. Both Mary and Jesus’s face have a light and soft tone to them, emphasizing their holy characteristics. I also love the way Mary’s mantle fits onto the counter (almost unrealistically). It’s pleasing to look at the way the cloak shapes the counter.

Ascension of Christ, 1520


Next, I chose the Ascension of Christ by Tisi because of how similar it is to Raphael’s Transfiguration. There is no physical evidence (that I could find) of this artwork being influenced by Raphael, but both these works are extremely similar. For one, they both use a light sky blue color: Tisi uses it throughout his painting, while Raphael uses it, mostly, in the first half of his painting. In addition, the structure of the paintings are similar: Tisi’s work includes Christ on the top and other figures on the bottom, and the same goes for Raphael’s work (though Raphael’s painting is divided into two scenes).

This painting shows the Ascension of Christ, which is when Christ’s ascended into Heaven forty days after his resurrection. The disciples saw this event; therefore, the individuals underneath are most likely Christ’s followers and disciples. It is believed the ascension happened on the Mount of Olives, which could be the mountain underneath Christ’s feet. The Heavens are opened up to Christ, surrounded by Saints and angels (excited at Christ’s arrival). Here the disciples get to see the glories of God and Heaven, and the ascension.

One interesting thing about this painting is that the mountain itself is small, and there’s another landscape background in the back! I wonder where Tisi was influenced by landscape backgrounds, and what the purpose was here. Also, the body of Christ doesn’t seem as overly defined like Michelangelo’s figures are, but it reminds me of the Lamentation over the Dead Christ by Andrea Mantegna, where Christ’s body is slightly sharp and defined. Even Christ’s slightly almond eyes and his face structure remind me of Mantegna’s Ecce Homo.

If any of you guys are interested in this artist and find some information on him, comment the links or information below (I would love to find something new about him).

Benvenuto Tisi da Garofalo, Virgin and Child with St Michael and Other Saints, 1530-1532

2 thoughts on “Benvenuto Tisi da Garofalo

  1. In the Ascension of Christ, do you know who the figures are (right to left) in the lower portion of the picture? There are 12 figures. By the time of the Ascension, there would have been 11 Apostles (Judas wasn’t replaced until later in Acts after the Ascension). It almost looks like Christ is also shown in the figure in the white robe in the lower left (his face and beard look the same as the figure above the mountain). And the figure in the lower right – who is that (in the white/green/red robe)? It’s also interesting to note there is a kind of triangle formed by what appear to be the main three figures (all in white); it’s also interesting that the figure in the lower left is holding up a closed book in his right hand and the figure on the lower right is holding in his left hand downwards what looks like a book that is open (it looks like he’s holding a place in the book with his finger). I’ve tried to find more detailed information about this painting – what the symbolism might mean. Anyway, thanks for your post here.

    1. Hi there! Unfortunately, I do not know who the figures are. I have looked through many websites including the museum in Italy that it is in now and some online scholarly articles. I agree with you that it looks like Christ is the figure in the lower left. He looks very similar to the Christ above. Maybe this is showing his teachings? Not the teachings that occurred before the death of Christ because Judas would have been there, but maybe this is Tisi’s personal interpretation of Christ teaching the apostles. Good observation of the triangle, I did not see that before! Maybe this is referencing the Holy Trinity, and the white represents purity? I’m not sure though if Christ is being referenced in the white/green/red robe because his features are a lot different, but who knows what Tisi was trying to achieve here. I wish there was some more information on this work, it seems as though a lot of his paintings are well documented except for this one.

      I think that since we are having such a hard time figuring out some of the meanings of this piece, Tisi may have included a lot of his own interpretation in this work. Possibly making this a personal, devotional art piece. Also, thanks for commenting!

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