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Nicolò Cusano

(Bernkastel-Kues, 1401 – Todi, 11.8.1464)

German-born Nicholas of Cusa was a jurist, philosopher and philologist and is one of the illustrious foreign students depicted by Gian Giacomo Dal Forno in Palazzo Bo’s Sala dei Quaranta.

He originally came from the area surrounding Heidelberg, where he registered as a student in 1416. It is thought that he moved to Padua perhaps the year after. He was hosted by Prosdocimo Conti, probably from around 1420, and graduated in canon law three years later. Among others, his friends in the city included the doctor and mathematician Paolo dal Pozzo Toscanelli.

During his services to the archbishop of Trier, he was a student in Cologne under Eimerico da Campo, becoming closer to the school of thought of Albertus Magnus and medieval mysticism. During this same period, he discovered 12 plays written by Plautus which had been unknown until then. From 1432, he took part in the Council of Basel and, from 1438, in the Council of Ferrara. He was also invited to Constantinople to invite the Greeks to take part. Between 1438 and 1440, he wrote his most famous work, “De docta ignorantia. Pope Nicholas V made him a cardinal in 1448. Appointed as a papal legate in Germany, he implemented an ecclesiastical reform in the country, which generated strong opposition. This escalated into a long and bitter struggle with Sigismund of Habsburg, Earl of Tyrol. The works entitled the “Idiot” (1450) and “De pace fidei” (1453) date back to this period, in addition to numerous other philosophical-theological and mathematical pieces.

In 1458, he went to live in Rome where he became an adviser to Pope Pius II, also helping to organise the crusade banned by the same pope.

The restoration of the Nicolò Cusano canvas was supported by Criocabin S.p.A.