Este, Isabella d', Marchioness of Mantua

(1474-1539)
   Isabella was the daughter of Ercole I d'Este, Duke of Ferrara, and Eleonora of Aragon. She was the recipient of a solid classic education from the literati in her father's service. At the age of 16, she married Francesco Gonzaga, Marquis of Mantua, and ruled the city with great skill during her husband's absences. At her new court, Isabella became a generous patron of art, literature, and music. She was also a major collector of antiquities and, as her letters reveal, at times she went to great lengths to obtain pieces for her collection. Some of the artists she patronized included Titian and Leonardo da Vinci, both of whom rendered her portrait—Titian in 1536 (Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum) and Leonardo in 1499 (chalk drawing; Paris, Louvre). In 1496, Isabella began the planning of her studiolo in the Mantuan Ducal Palace for which she commissioned a series of works with allegorical content. Among the artists who contributed works for the project were Andrea Mantegna, who rendered the Expulsion of the Vices from the Garden of Virtue (1497); Pietro Perugino, who painted the Battle between Chastity and Love (1503-1505); and Lorenzo Costa, who provided the Allegory of the Court of Isabella d'Este (c. 1506; all in Paris, Louvre).

Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. . 2008.

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