(b Trebizond (now Trabzon), Jan 2, 1402; d Ravenna, Nov 18, 1472).
Byzantine cleric and patron. Consequent on the negotiations for the union of the Western and Eastern churches (1438–9), in which he took a prominent part, Bessarion changed to the Latin rite and was created a cardinal by Pope Eugenius IV (reg 1431–47). He resided in Rome from the 1440s as Cardinal Bishop of Sabina and Tusculum and later as titular Patriarch of Constantinople, during which time he employed the considerable revenues that he drew from these appointments to restore churches including SS Apostoli (c. 560) in Rome and della Madonna del Monte (12th century) in Bologna where he commissioned frescoes (destr.) by Galasso Galassi (fl 1449–88).
Bessarion’s patronage was influenced by his Byzantine roots. The chapel of the Madonna di San Luca (1198) in Bologna probably benefited from his generosity because it contained an icon from Constantinople, while the Madonna of Bessarion...