Paradoxplace Umbria and le Marche Galleries

Artists of the Italian Renaissance

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Duke Federico and the

Palazzo Ducale, Urbino

(Duke Federico da Montefeltro 1422 - 1482)


Link to Gubbio - another Duke Federico town





The sun sets on the Palazzo Ducale in Urbino, built between 1444 and 1472 for the Duke of Urbino,  Federico da Montefeltro.


"It could be argued" said Kenneth Clark in the 1970s book and BBC TV series  "Civilization" (both still available) "that life in Urbino was one of the high water marks of western civilization. (As for the Palace), the arcaded courtyard is calm and timeless Öthe rooms are so perfectly proportioned that it exhilarates one to walk through them: in fact itís the only palace in the world that I can go round without feeling oppressed and exhausted". 


Another commentator says that "above all it was judgement, not just a lucky use of available talent, that made the proportions, the spaces and the decorations of his palace the purest and most harmonious expressions of Quattrocento aesthetic ideals" (J.R.Hale, U.C. London).








A beautifully produced little themed Tuscan travel guide, including an essay by Aldous Huxley who travelled over the mountains from Urbino to Sansepolcro in a bus in the 1920s to see "the best picture in the world"


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Link to Aldous Huxley's  essay "The Best Picture in the World"






The Piero della Francesca Trail


Revisiting Sansepolcro, Monterchi and Arezzo - November 2007


 An Autumn Sunday in Sansepolcro - October 2003


Chronology Entry


Sunset and other photos of  the Palazzo Ducale, Urbino (this page)




On the left, the famous (little) portrait of the Duke of Urbino (1422 - 1482 (60)) painted by Piero della Francesca in 1472 and now in Room 7 of the Uffizi Gallery, Florence, and on the right the Duke and his son painted by Pietro (Pedro) Berruguette* in 1480-81 to be found in the Urbino Palace.  The Duke, one of the leading Italian mercenary generals (Condottiere) of his day, had earlier lost his right eye in a jousting accident - hence the fact that all the portraits of him are from the left hand side.  And the nose bridge was apparently created by surgeons to give the surviving left eye the ability to "see right".


*Pedro Berruguette also painted the much used inquisition image "The Court of Inquisition Chaired by St. Dominic" in the Prado in Madrid - link to come! 


More background and  portraits.





A corner of the Dukes' studiolo, whose walls are covered with fine intarsia panels containing images including musical instruments, books, armour and other military equipment.  Urbino's sister palazzo in Gubbio contained another fine intarsia studiolo, but this is now disgracefully in the Metropolitan Museum in New York.  If you want good intarsia in Tuscany, Monte Oliveto Maggiore has the best that there is.




Two beautiful reasons to visit the Galleria Nazionale delle Marche in the Palazzo -  on the left Raphael's Mute Woman, and on the right  the Madonna of Senigallia by Piero della Francesca (1416 - 1492 (76)).  Piero came from Sansepolcro  on the other side of the Apennines, but still enjoyed the patronage of Duke Federico, whilst Raphael (1483 - 1520 (37))  was born in Urbino itself in  the year after the Duke died. 



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