Beyond Isabella: Secular Women Patrons of Art in Renaissance Italy

By Sheryl E. Reiss; David G. Wilkins | Go to book overview

Renaissance Husbands and Wives as Patrons of Art:
The Camerini of Isabella d'Este
and Francesco II Gonzaga

Molly Bourne

In September 1506, Francesco II Gonzaga, the marquis of Mantua (ruled 1484–1519), left the city to join Pope Julius II in the papal campaign to expel the Bentivoglio family from Bologna. Shortly after Francesco's departure, his consort Isabella d'Este (1474– 1539) inspected the work being done in her husband's absence on the apartments in his new town house, the Palazzo di San Sebastiano, then under construction. In a letter from Mantua dated 5 October 1506, Isabella wrote to Francesco about her impressions, drawing a clear parallel between his new rooms and her own apartments in the Castello di San Giorgio:

A few days ago I was in Your Excellency's house, and, as I wrote before, thought
it most beautiful. You write that I am making fun of you, but this is not true,
because if the rooms were not beautiful I would remain silent; but, as they seemed
to me to have such a lovely effect, I wrote this to you, and again I tell you that
they are beautiful, and even more because Your Excellency has learned from the
example of my room, although I must confess that you have improved upon it.1

Written in her own hand rather than by one of her secretaries, Isabella's letter reveals an acute sense of mutual awareness between the couple in the use and exhibition of their camerini, or private apartments. In the world of the Italian Renaissance court, the decoration of such apartments was carefully designed to convey the status and persona of its inhabitants to those visitors privileged enough to be admitted. While Francesco's San Sebastiano camerini are not only no longer extant but have been virtually forgotten, Isabella's Studiolo and Grotta together represent one of the best-studied examples of signorial apartments in the history of art, and, as the product of a woman's initiative, have served doubly to help define our understanding of female patronage and self-representation in the Renaissance.2 Francesco II Gonzaga and Isabella d'Este represent one of the earliest and certainly one of the best-documented cases of a husband and wife who were both active as patrons. Taken together, a comparison of their apartments provides us with a unique opportunity to examine the patronage relationship between the ruling couple of this important Italian Renaissance court.

Isabella was a long-lived and self-described "insatiable" art collector whose activities are documented in her voluminous surviving correspondence, making it hardly surprising that she stands at the center of most discussions of female secular patronage in the Renaissance. As we learn more about patronage patterns by other women in this period, it is becoming possible to locate Isabella's activities more accurately in the emerging spectrum and to reassess her traditionally paradigmatic status.3 One area of study in which Isabella continues to rule supreme, however, is the examination of patronage at the Gonzaga court itself. Here, studies have focused on Isabella's creation and decoration of her Studiolo and Grotta, her

-93-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Beyond Isabella: Secular Women Patrons of Art in Renaissance Italy
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 340

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.