Franco dei Russi first appeared in records in 1455, where he is listed as working on a sumptuous bible for Borso d'Este of Ferrara. The records refer to him as "Franco da Mantova" which may indicate that he was originally from Mantua. His work during his years in Ferrara reveal an interest in large-scale figures with weighty draperies, tempered by a courtliness and attention to detail. In the early 1460s, Franco moved to the Veneto, where he worked until 1471 or 1472. The illuminations he produced while in the Veneto are characterized by a crispness of form and more saturated colors perhaps showing the influence of the artist Andrea Mantegna. By the 1470s, Franco had moved to Urbino, where he worked for the illustrious Federigo II da Montefeltro.