Francia, Francesco

, an historical painter, whose real name was Raibolini, was born at Bologna in 1450, and wa bred to the profession of a goldsmith, which he exercised for some time with very considerable celebrity, having the coinage of the city of Bologna under his care. His desire of reputation, and his acquaintance with Andrea Mantegna and other painters, led him to the study of painting-, but from whom he received the first elements of instruction is not known. In 1490 he produced a picture of the Virgin seated, and surrounded by several figures; among whom is the portrait of M. Bart. Felisini, for whom the picture was painted. In this he still calls himself “Frauciscus Francis, aurifex,” and it, with another picture of a similar subject, painted for the chapel Bentivoglio a St. Jacopo, gained him great reputation. He painted many pictures for churches, &c. in Bologna, Modena, Parma, and other cities; but they were in the early, Gothic, dry manner, called “stila antico moderuo,” which he greatly improved upon in his latter productions. On Pietro Perugino he formed his characters of heads, and his choice of tone and colour; on Gian. Bellino, fullness of outline and breadth of drapery; and if the best evidence of his merit, the authority of Raphael, be of weight, in process of time he excelled them both. In a letter dated 1508, edited by Malvasia, Raphael declares that the Madonnas of Francia were inferior, in his opinion, to none for beauty, devoutness, and form. His idea of Francia’s talents exhibited itself still stronger in his entrusting his picture of St. | Cecilia, destined for the church of St Gio da Monte at Bologna, to his care, by letter soliciting him as a friend to See it put in its place, and if he found any defect in it, that he would kindly correct it. Vasari says that Francia died with grief in 1518, upon seeing by this picture that he was as nothing in the art, compared with the superior genius of Raphael; but Malvasia proves that he lived some years afterwards, and in an improved style produced his celebrated St. Sebastian, which Caracci describes as the general model of proportion and form for the students at Bologna. A copy of this figure still exists in the church della Misericordia. 1


Pilkington.—Rees’s Cyclopædia.