Amongst the Emilian painters between the XIII and XVI centuries, the Ferrarese school is represented mostly with small format paintings created for private devotion and acquired in 1851 from the Dalla Rosa-Prati family.
Amongst the paintings is the Madonna and child, the so called “Zingarella”, by Dosso Dossi. As the impressive St. Michael the Archangel fighting the devil, from the Cathedral of Reggio Emilia. This masterpiece of its genre was commissioned by Alfonso I d’Este to celebrate taking back the city from Giulio II. It is a complex work which the painter completed with his brother Battista, where the strong contrast between the angel and demon in the foreground is imposed on an almost fairy tale countryside background.
Following on from this section can be found the polyptich of St Peter the Martyr by the painters from Modena, Bartolomeo and Agnolo degli Erri, which depicts the life and miracles of the saint from his infancy to his death.
This series closes with two altarpieces by the Bolognese Francesco Francia from the church of St John the Evangelist, painted almost with the tip of the brush and with great attention to detail. In the enthroned Madonna and child with the Saints Benedict, Giustina, Scolastica and Placido attention is drawn to the marvellous details of the jewels in the vestments, which seem to be painted in relief with a play of illusionism typical of the great Bologna “aurifex”.