Isabella d’Este

Isabella d’Este: A Renaissance Woman

“Isabella d’Este (Ferrara 1474 – Mantua 1539) was already defined in her lifetime as “The first lady of the world”, and remains today one of the most brilliant characters of the Italian Renaissance. The first-born daughter of Duke Ercole of Ferrara and Eleonora of Aragon, at only six years of age was betrothed to Francesco Ii Gonzaga, heir of the Lords of Mantua. At sixteen, when she arrived in Mantua, she created one of the most culturally refined courts of the Renaissance. Driven by her insatiable desire for all things of antiquity, she collected in her Studiolo a precious assortment of classical artifacts. Fully aware of her extraordinary virtues, both physical and intellectual, she trusted the most illustrious artist of her time to represent her, and was portrayed by both Leonardo da Vinci and Titian – a privilege not bestowed upon any king, Pope, or Emperor. A demanding and discerning patron, she entrusted Andrea Mantegna, Lorenzo Costa, Pietro Perugino and Correggio to create a cycle of paintings for her Studiolo. As a refined trend-setter, she formed the fashion of her time according to her own tastes, and became a point of reference not only for all of the Italian courts, but also for aristocrats throughout Europe. From her astrological chart and emblems to her portraits and the canvases created specifically for her Studiolo, this book contains several clear and original perspectives that highlight and better define the profile of Isabella. Here we have a new view of a Renaissance woman.”

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