Innocenzo da Imola deserved the title of ‘Raffaello of Romagna’ for his harmonious classical touch in painting. He was the son of a goldsmith, and apprentice to Francesco Francia of Bologna – famous and influential painter of this period.
In 1515 he is ready to open his own shop in Imola, and it’s at this time that he paints ‘La Madonna in Trono con Bambino con San Cassiano and San Pier Grisologo in atto di adorazione’, presently on exposition in the Pinacoteca Comunale of Imola. This portrait is said to have been painted as a sign of gratitude towards the municipality for having provided him with the grant which enabled him to start his studies in Bologna. The painting represents the patron saints of Imola, with S Cassiano holding the town in his hands.
In 1517 Innocenzo leaves Imola and moves to Bologna, a change which permits him to create paintings of higher prestige and fame. The large altar paintings and the numerous religious works rendered Innocenzo one of the most important religious painters commissioned by the leading families of Bologna.
Among his students from Imola are Gaspare Sacchi, who was greatly inspired by his teacher, as it can be seen in his painting “Sposalizio della Madonna e Santi”, which for a long time was attributed to Innocenzo, and Prospero Fontana, influential painter of the bolognese style, and whose daughter Lavinia, was the author of important paintings of our town, for example, the large painting for the church of the present Town Hall. It represents the patron saints of Imola worshipping Mother Mary. Today this work of art can be admired in the Pinacoteca Comunale.