Presumably born in Ferrara around 1476, Garofalo is first documented in 1497, when his father Pietro Tisi paid Boccaccio Boccaccino, a painter active in Ferrara at the time, for tuition for his son. Yet Vasari relates that Domenico Panetti was the teacher of the young Tisi, who received his surname after his family's home town, the village of Garofalo in the province of Rovigo. In 1502 Garofalo is identified as being of age (i.e. probably twenty-five) and as a 'pictore'. Beginning in 1506, the artist appears regularly in Ferrarese records with commissions, some of them now lost. For example, in 1506 he was paid for two canvases that he had delivered to Ferrara's Palazzo di Schifanoia for the apartments of Lucrezia Borgia. The early works attributed to him on the basis of style suggest the influence of his teacher Boccaccino as well as impressions from the Bolognese painters Lorenzo Costa and Francesco Francia. In the further course of his development, he appears to have also been impressed by Mantegna and Giorgione. His first known signed painting, an enthroned Madonna and Child with saints, now in the Pinacoteca Civica in Argenta, is dated to 1513. Up until the early 1530s there are only isolated signed works by the artist, but from the fourth and fifth decades of the sixteenth century, numerous paintings assured to be his by inscriptions survive; occasionally, in place of a written signature, they are identified by a carnation ('garofano'). Just how obscure his development is, especially in the 1510s and 1520s, is clear from the current controversy over the dating of the Costabili Polyptych, now in the Pinacoteca Nazionale in Ferrara. Until only recently, it was considered a joint work by Garofalo and Dosso Dossi from the early 1520s if not from around 1530. However, on the basis of recently discovered archival records, it appears at least to some scholars that the altarpiece may have been painted as early as 1513/14 and later reworked by Dossi around 1520. Garofalo's later work, which is shaped by his intensive study of Raphael, shows the painter to be the creator of complex, at times distinctly neoclassical-seeming compositions. In the 1540s he began losing his eyesight, and by 1550 he was totally blind. His last dated painting, an Annunciation now in the Brera in Milan, was produced in that year.