An examination of a dozen paintings and several woodcuts by the Ferrarese artist Dosso Dossi (ca. 1490-1542) suggests that he belongs to the select company of other doubly gifted painters of the sixteenth century who were also musicians. The evidence rests on the accuracy of Dosso's depictions of musical instruments, his knowledge of their symbolism, and above all, from his inclusion of two canons, one circular and the other triangular, in a painting (ca. 1524-1534) once at the Este castle in Ferrara, and now in the Museo Horne, Florence. Whereas the composer of the former canon remains unknown, that of the latter is Josquin Desprez. The work is Josquin's celebrated proportional canon from the Agnus Dei of his Mass, L'homme armé super voces musicales. Musical aspects of Dosso's complex allegory reside not only in the relationships of the two canons on the right side of the picture to three hammers belonging to a blacksmith on the left side, but also in the tablets of stone on which the canons are inscribed. A brief notice of the changing relationships between music and painting at this period sets the stage for a more thorough examination of statements by Leonardo da Vinci concerning both arts, statements that help provide a conceptual framework for Dosso's allegory of music.
- Copyright 1990 The American Musicological Society, Inc.