·First Lady of the Renaissance
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Landscape of Mona Lisa, La Joconde, by Leonadro da Vinci. Beneath towering cliffs of the Italian Alps, water pools into basins of profound beauty, creating the Lake District of northern Italy. The Mincio River spilling from the Largest of these, Lake Garda, winds its way through rolling verdant foothills, eventually finding its way to the northern banks of a charming town forgotten in time locals call Sleeping Beauty. Here lies the hidden secret of Leonardo and Isabella.
Alexander the Great (?) | probably Italian | The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Reputed to have been in the Este collections, this vibrant carving is in turquoise, a rarity in cameos of any period. The stone is Hellenistic, from as early as the fourth century B.C. Portraying the lion skin of Alexander the Great a motif borrowed from Hercules.
Boy supporting a shell | Severo da Ravenna | V&A Explore The Collections
Ink-well, 1500-1525, Severo da Ravenna (workshop of, maker) in Bronze. Severo was described by a contemporary as ‘the perfect sculptor’. His small bronzes were replicated in great numbers and his many patrons included Isabella d’Este, the Marchesa of Mantua and a discerning collector. This bronze was probably part of a writing set, with the shell used as an inkwell.
Comb | Unknown | V&A Explore The Collections
COMB Boxwood inlaid with geometric marquetry and studded with silver. ITALIAN; about 1500. In 1500 Isabella d'Este of Ferrara acquired combs made of ivory, horn and ebony inlaid with ivory. Such combs were probably made in workshops specialising in small scale inlaid woodwork located in Florence, Modena and Venice. The geometric patterns reflect Islamic influences.
The Emperor of Constantinople John VIII Palaiologos stayed at Ferrara from January 8, 1438, to January 10, 1439, captured by Pisanello. After the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the Palaiologos dynasty ruled Monferrato, Italy. The Palaiologos dynasty continued on through the Gonzaga Dukes of Mantua in the marriage of Margaret Palaiologos and Federico II Gonzaga, son of Isabella d’Este.
Isabella d'Este was Marchesa of Mantua and one of the leading women of the Italian Renaissance as a major cultural and political figure. She was a patron of the arts as well as a leader of fashion, whose innovative style of dressing was copied by women throughout Italy and at the French court. In addition to playing music, she collected art, and sponsored philosophers, poets, and painters, such as Titian, Raphael, Giovanni Bellini, and Leonardo da Vinci.
Giulio Romano (around 1499-1546) was born and trained in Rome, where he worked in the studio of Raphael, until the artist's death in 1520. In 1524 he began working for the Ducal court at Mantua. Designing all manner of objects for the court, from tableware and decoration, to paintings, fresco cycles and buildings. Giulio's brilliance as a designer was spread widely through engravings made after his work, and he is the only Italian artist mentioned by William Shakespeare (in The Winter's Tale).