By the 10th of August she was able to start on her journey, and spent a night on the way at Canneto with her kinswoman, Antonia del Balzo, wife of Gianfrancesco Gonzaga of Bozzolo, who came to meet her with two beautiful daughters. "Messer Andrea Mantegna himself," exclaimed the marchioness, "could not paint fairer maidens!"
Among other presents which Gianfrancesco received from his brother-in-law were a pair of lions which the Moro, who was constantly sending to Africa for wild beasts, showed him in his menagerie, and promised to send him as soon as they were sufficiently tame.
Gianfrancesco dwells on the number and beauty of the gaily decorated barges and triremes, and describes the magnificent loggia hung with tapestries and wreaths of flowers which had been erected in front of the palazzo occupied by the Milanese ambassador, at the entrance of the Canal Grande.
Accordingly, on the 1st of February, Duchess Leonora set out on her homeward journey, with her son and his newly-made bride and the Marchioness Isabella, accompanied by an escort of two hundred Milanese gentlemen, with Anna's brother, Ermes Sforza, and the Count of Caiazzo Gianfrancesco, the eldest of the Sanseverino brothers at their head.
Her husband, the Marquis Gianfrancesco, had naturally been included in the invitation, but as a close ally of the Venetians he did not think it politic to appear at the wedding of Lodovico Sforza. The Signory of Venice were known to look coldly on this alliance between Ferrara and Milan, and entertained the deepest distrust of Lodovico's policy.
"Nothing in the world," she wrote to Gianfrancesco, who was then at Venice as captain-general of the Republic's forces, "will induce me to go to Venice at the same time as my sister the duchess." And she insisted on her desire to appear before the Doge, not as a guest and foreign visitor, but as a daughter and servant, begging that she might be treated without any pomp or ceremony.
There was one point, however, upon which Gianfrancesco confessed himself unable to gratify his wife and sister's curiosity. "I will not attempt," he says, "to describe the gowns and ornaments worn by these duchesses and Madonna Anna, this being quite out of my line, and will only tell you that all three of them appeared resplendent with the most precious jewels."
Gianfrancesco, Count of Caiazzo, the eldest of the Sanseverino brothers, was chosen by Lodovico as chief ambassador to the French king, and received secret instructions to show Charles VIII. the proposals which had been made to the Regent of Milan by the King of England and Maximilian, King of the Romans.
As soon as Lodovico recognized the Marquis of Mantua, he sent him a pressing invitation to take his place with the ducal party; and Gianfrancesco, unable to refuse so courteous a request, joined his wife and sat down with the rest of his kinsfolk to the family banquet, which was held that night in the Castello.
There are, in the churches of Verona, at least three notable works, by Gianfrancesco Caroto, in this style. One is in Sant' Anastasia, another is in San Giorgio, and the third the artist's best existing work is in San Fermo Maggiore, and shows the Virgin's mother, St. Anne, seated with her in the clouds.