An artist in the late Renaissance, of the Italian Mannerists, Il Garofalo was of the School of Ferrara painters, from his birthplace Ferrara. His idyllic works were a classic example of the School of Ferrara painters, but he also developed a more classical style perhaps influenced by his time in Rome and from the work of Giulio Romano (1499 – 1546). His breadth of studies under artists who influenced or were affiliated to different schools of Italian painting gave him a refined sense of style.
In his early training he studied with Domenico Panetti (1460 – 1530) in Ferrara and also with his uncle Niccoló Soriani in the Province of Cremona. His connection here may also be in studying with a painter of the Emilian School, Boccaccio Boccaccino, also born in Ferrara who was quite active in Cremona. He possibly spent a few years studying in Mantua with Lorenzo Costa (1460 – 1535), also from Ferrara, but who later influenced the Bolognese School of painting.
During his time in Rome before this, he may have studied draughtsmanship some with Giovanni Baldini. Also while in Rome, Garofalo worked in the Vatican Stanza with the Italian master Raphael (1483 – 1520). Then, returning to Ferrara he was commissioned by Duke Alphonso I, completing paintings with a frequent collaborator, Dosso Dossi (1490 – 1542), of the Ferrara School, who also trained under Costa and Raphael.
Some of his earliest works documented were, Madonna and Child, Adoration of the Child, Neptune and Pallas, Madona delle Nuvole, and Madonna del Baldacchino, completed between 1510 and 1517. After this came his more noted works, including The Boar Hunt in the Palazzo Sciarra and for the Venice Academy of Fine Arts, Virgin in the Clouds with Four Saints in 1518. Between 1519 and 1524 he created what are considered his principle works, Massacre of the Innocents for the Church of St. Francesco and Betrayal of Christ. His piece in Ferrara’s Dominican Church, Peter Martyr, is said to have been created in rivalry with his friend, Titian (1485 – 1576).
Other noted works by Garofalo include his Adoration of the Magi for the Church of San Giorgio, and Knights Procession for the Palazzo Colonna in Rome, Pietá from 1527, the Madonna from 1532 and in the Athenaeum at Ferrara, The Triumph of Religion. A 1528 piece, Annunciation, is in the Pinacoteca Capitolina in Rome, but another piece titled Annunciation also hangs in the Uffizi Gallery, along with his piece, Christ and the Tribute Money. Now in the National Gallery of London are his works, Agony in the Garden and also Allegory of Love. A number of additional works of Garofalo have survived as well.
He started a workshop in Ferrara later in life, from which a prominent student, Girolamo da Carpi (1501 – 1556) was trained. Carpi apprenticed on pieces that Garofalo and Dosso Dossi collaborated on in Ferrara. Garofalo worked diligently into the late 1550s, but sadly became stricken with blindness before his death in 1559.