Francesco II Gonzaga and Isabella d'Este: new perspectives on music and art at the Mantuan court, 1484-1519




Weston, Inez Lesley

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Isabella d'Este (1474-1539), the wife of Francesco II Gonzaga (1466-1519), Marquis of Mantua, is widely acknowledged for her patronage of the arts at the Gonzaga court in Mantua, during a formative period in her life, 1490 to c.1523. This thesis draws attention to a dilemma in Renaissance studies: namely, that musicologists have a far great[er] appreciation of Isabella's work as a patron of music, whereas she has been less positively appreciated in some of the art historical literature. A similar phenomenon is observed in the case of Francesco II, who was, for many years, the patron of the well-known artist, Andrea Mantegna, as well as being a strong patron of the liberal arts, including music, (sacred and secular), yet art historians have only recently begun to re-evaluate his contribution in a positive light, and some historians have undervalued his role as a politician, diplomat, and ruler. This study explores how this husband and wife team collaborated on various projects involving the visual arts and music to build up the cultural profile of their court at Mantua. It would seem that a greater cross-disciplinary interaction between art historians, historians, and musicologists, would broaden our understanding of patronage studies during the Renaissance.



art patronage, Italy, Mantua, history