Isabella D'este - Renaissance patron
Isabella d’Este: A portrait of a female patron in Renaissance Italy
Art defined the renaissance and the renaissance defined art. It was the product of a society, a response to both social and political circumstances and a mirror to its values as well. Although it would be impossible to derive Isabella d’Este’s exact taste, it is safe to say the rarity of an object was a driving force in a commissioned piece or a sought after item. A particular need for these slices of superiority were becoming more popular in order to convey messages of power and prestige into the public sphere. Patrons of the Renaissance could provide high valued artefacts to the church with the expectation that they would be spiritually rewarded. Rulers could make their land and cities more visually appealing and religious orders could emphasize within the “cultic life of the city.” Although these reasons did not apply specifically to Isabella, we can ultimately identify her as a patron whose desire for art collecting was closely correlated to her personal goal of enhancing her image or those attached to her at a personal and public level. Art collecting became into a visual tool, which allowed members of the nobility, clergy and other elite groups to create representations of their status in the collective’s subconscious. Therefore, it becomes evident how for Isabella the practices of collecting and patronage developed into outlets that gave her the capacity to present herself as a relevant figure inside the northern Italian socio-political sphere.
Raised in Ferrara and daughter of Duke Ercole d’Este and Eleonor of Aragon, Isabella d’Este was to pursue a life of cultural illumination. After moving to Mantua in 1490, she was able to learn much about art, music and most importantly collecting, thanks to the cultural exposure that came along with her family’s position and the environment in which she was raised. The search for artists to commission and antiquities was something that ran in Isabella’s bloodline and it would not take long enough before she started to follow the steps of her relatives in regards to the practice of art collecting. Prompted her to start acquiring pieces at a relatively young age, there was a competitive push, which was driven into her by the rivalry with her brother Alfonso d’Este, who was also an avid collector. Although their tastes did vary, it was still enough to lead...