Lelio Orsi

Lelio Orsi was certainly one of the most refined and complex protagonists of the second phase of Mannierism, "in architecture magno, in pictura maiori et in delineamentis optimo", as cited on his tombstone currently located in Novellara-based Church of Santo Stefano.
Lelio Orsi

Annunciazione - Lelio Orsi - Museo Gonzaga

Born in 1511 at Novellara , Lelio Orsi  spent his early childhood in the culturally refined and challenging the court of the Gonzaga family (his father was Captain of the door of Novellara Castle) and his artistic apprenticeship was certainly influenced by frequent trips and stays in Mantova, home to the largest Gonzaga lordship, where among other things he could see the work of Giulio Romano. He worked in Novellara Castle and probably on the design of Casino di Sopra: in a document dated 1530 and already called "master."

In 1533 he painted a frieze in the presbytery of Querciola Castle, the first known pictorial testimony in the Reggio Emilia area, where he created a number of works (paintings such as the frequency of the external clock tower in Piazza del Duomo); he had to flee in 1546 because he was wrongly accused of complicity in a murder (his strangeness to the fact it was then recognized six years later). Welcomed and protected in his native Novellara, Orsi was then and for the next forty years the court artist of Gonzaga.

1563 was the year of the beginning of an intense building and painting in the small capital Gonzaga, a true "genius loci" , Orsi worked assiduously in all the factories built by Gonzaga, as architect and painter. The Novellara Renaissance unmistakably bears his mark: he elaborated the design of the old town centre, he designed Santo Stefano Church, the second floor and loggia of the Fortress and some houses in Novellara, on several occasions he continued to work in Reggio Emilia, up to the mid-eighties. He died at home May 3, 1587. His drawings and paintings are now scattered in major museums around the world, in Novellara remain his architectural works, the friezes and the pictorial cycle of the Casino di Sopra (now in the Museum Gonzaga) .