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Janus Pannonius

(Croatia, 29.8.1434 – Medvedgrad, 27.3.1472)

Janus Pannonius is one of the 40 ancient foreign students painted by Gian Giacomo Dal Forno in the hall leading into the Great Hall in Padua’s Palazzo Bo.

Janus was actually called Ivan Česmički, or at least this was his Croatian name (his father was Croatian).

He began his studies in spring 1447 in Guarino Veronese’s school in Ferrara. Ivan immediately fell in love with humanities and chose to mark his choice by translating his name into Latin, becoming “Janus Pannonius”. He was one of the most talented students and very soon, at an incredibly young age, he became one of the first Latin poets. Thank to this early and natural talent for poetry, he received many commissions to write compositions, above all for celebrations.

He came to Padua in 1454 in order to study canon law. Here, he continued to write poetry, although his pressing academic studies meant that he couldn’t dedicate himself to this art on an ongoing basis. He became a friend of the painter Andrea Mantegna, who was almost the same age as him and who, at the time, was working on the Ovetari Chapel in Padua’s Eremitani church. Janus dedicated an elegy to him in 1458.

He graduated in 1458 and, the year after, he was made bishop of Quinque Ecclesiae, today’s Pécs. In 1465, King Mattia Corvino sent him to Rome to ask for help against the Turks and he once again fell in love with humanities: he wrote the epic poem “Annales”, which has since been lost. After returning to Hungary, he was part of a plot against the king that was then discovered. He died near to Zagreb trying to escape.

Today, he is above all remembered as Hungary’s first humanist.

The restoration of the Janus Pannonius canvas has been supported by Rotary Club (Abano Terme, Camposampiero, Cittadella, Cittadella Alta Padovana, Padova, Padova Contarini, Padova Est, Padova Euganea, Padova Nord)