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Lelio Orsi

1508–1587, Novellara

Born in the little Emilian town of Novellara, the painter and architect Lelio Orsi is undoubtedly one of the most interesting and wayward personalities of the Italian Cinquecento. Having worked as a painter in Reggio for ten years, Orsi was forced to leave the city in 1546, allegedly because of his involvement in a murder case, and returned to Novellara. In his home town he enjoyed the special protection of Alfonso and Camillo Gonzaga, who were distantly related to the ruling family of the same name in Mantua and gave him numerous commissions. In the company of these noble patrons Orsi also undertook study trips to Venice (1553) and Rome (1554–56). Almost nothing has been preserved of Orsi’s panel paintings and frescoes. His drawings are also very rare.