By Maria Alambritis

In November 1488, the Malvezzi Conspiracy against the Bentivoglio family of Bologna was discovered and thwarted.

The Bentivoglio were a prominent family of Italian patrons, who rose to power in the civic and cultural life of Bologna from the thirteenth to sixteenth centuries.

Piro Malvezzi was exiled for plotting the attempted conspiracy against Bologna’s ruling family. In thanks for his family’s safety, Giovanni Il Bentivoglio (1443-1508), Signore of Bologna, commissioned Lorenzo Costa (1460-1535) to paint a devotional image for the family’s chapel in San Giacomo Maggiore. The Bentivoglio Altarpiece depicts Giovanni and his wife Ginevra Sforza kneeling before the Madonna and Child enthroned, surrounded by their eleven children. It is an important document asserting the family’s position and power.


Cavalca, Cecilia. La pala d’altare a Bologna nel Rinascimento: opera, artistic, e città 1450-1500. Milano: Silvana Editoriale, 2013.

Drogin, David  J. “Art, Patronage and Civic Identities in Renaissance Bologna”. In The Court Cities of Northern Italy: Milan, Parma, Piacenza, Mantua, Ferrara, Bologna, Urbino, Pesaro and Rimini. Edited by Charles M. Rosenberg, 244-324. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

 Tabarroni, Giorgio and Janet Southorn. “Bentivoglio.” Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online. Oxford University Press.

Lorenzo Costa, Madonna and Child Enthroned with Bentivoglio Family, 1488, fresco, San Giacomo Maggiore, Capelle Bentevoglio, Bologna.

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