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Portrait Elisabetta Gonzaga

Painting, 1506, 52.5×37.3 cm

Description of the artwork «Portrait Elisabetta Gonzaga»

In the eighteenth century this painting was attributed school Giovanni Bellini in the first half of the XIX – attributed Andrea Mantegna only in the early twentieth century it was established that the work belongs to Rafael, and depicted the wife of the Duke of Urbino Guidobaldo da Montefeltro, Elisabetta Gonzaga.

"What is it Gonzaga? He Gonzaga?"


Whether Rafael is familiar with Elisabetta? Unlike many "Madonnas" and female portraits, models which have remained unknown (or, if their names history has preserved, role in the fate of the artist is either quite vague, or full of legends, in which it is difficult to distinguish truth from fiction), in the case of the model of this portrait, we can answer affirmatively: Yes, Raphael knew her very well.

But to explain the circumstances in which crossed the Duchess and Rafael, you should start with his father Giovanni Santi. As son, he was born in the Italian city of Urbino. The Duke of Urbino during senior Santi was the condottiere Federico da Montefeltro – an outstanding figure of the Renaissance, military commander, politician and connoisseur of the arts. Anyone interested in paintings of the period, of course, well-remembered double portrait of the Duke of Federigo and his wife Battista Sforza by Piero della Francesca: saw time this strong-willed profile with distinct nose break, it will not soon forget. This remarkable ruler, who wanted to make of Urbino, "ideal city", the "city Palace", and was court painter Giovanni Santi, father of Raphael.

The sixth child of the Duke and his wife Battista was a weak and sickly boy, Guidobaldo. He was only 10 years old when, in 1482, the year he died, federigo da Montefeltro, but it is Guidobaldo became the Duke of Urbino after his father, as all children born before him, were girls. At the National gallery of the Marche, which eventually transformed Urbino Palace, is stored dynastic portrait, which shows Federigo and his little cherubic heir of Guidobaldo. The author we do not know: first, it was thought that this Melozzo da Forli then – Justus van Gent now more or less unanimously assumed that the portrait was written by the Spaniard Pedro Berruguete. Just curious in this picture is a detailed writing of regalia: Federigo on the neck the order of the ermine, and below the knee – the order of the garter, and his little son wearing a gown, richly covered with large pearls, his brow and chest is decorated with amethysts, resembling the zodiacal symbols, and in the hands of Guidobaldo holds a scepter Gonfaloniere (in Rome, the so-called commander of the papal troops, in Florence – the head of government and the guarantor of the Constitution), although by age he is not more than five years.

So, in 10 years, Guidobaldo received the Duchy, and after 6 years he was up to (or more accurately, so decided its surroundings) to marry. In bride he was chosen as our heroine – Elisabetta Gonzaga, the sister of McGrath Mantua. She was not particularly beautiful and was a little older than the young Duke da Montefeltro, but influential relatives considered it a great party, and Guidobaldo went to the bride to Mantua. Other novelists called Elisabetta "Mature bride" – in our times, it's funny: Guidobaldo was 16, she was 17. But if we remember how Shakespeare Paris, asking to 14-year-old Juliet, tells her doubting father, count Capulet: "I mothers happy knew younger..." we will understand that the fierce determination.

Upon meeting Elisabetta struck groom is that high for a women, growth. It is known that after signing in Mantua all documents pertaining to the marriage contract, hill Guidobaldo decided to show off in the saddle – and very badly. Fractious horse threw him at full gallop, the Duke of Urbino returned with broken arms and ribs and cervical dislocation.

However, in spite of the unfavorable omens, the big wedding of Elisabetta Gonzaga and Guidobaldo da Montefeltro took place: from different corner of Italy gathered more than five hundred noble guests, the festivities lasted deep into the night, and Giovanni Santi in honor of the holiday even written and staged three-act Comedy in verse, to which he wrote the scenery, and now was considered not just an artist, and something of the education Minister at the Ducal court. His son Raphael at this time was about six years old.

"Each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way"


We were satisfied with their lot, the newly minted Duchess of Urbino? Imagine how she ended up in damaging the imagination of a magnificent castle, built charismatic Federigo, which she failed to catch. It was designed by the architect Laurana and the best engineers of his time, and advised the construction of the Leon Battista Alberti. The castle was of extraordinary beauty and functionality: the hanging gardens, halls, decorated by the famous artists, inlaid Cabinet master, a Grand throne room for receptions, and an unprecedented level of household amenities – water supply system re-purifying water, the kitchen and the glacier, restrooms, which were heated in the same way as the baths of the Ancient Rimu. It was all extremely luxury for its time. When the French philosopher Montaigne, traveling, got to Urbino, he was amazed at the scale of the Palace of Montefeltro and recorded in the travel notes that rooms and halls there are not less than days in the year.

But family life Elisabetta went wrong from the beginning. Pretty soon she was disappointed in his wife. Painful, Guidobaldo (in addition to displacement of the vertebrae, he suffered from severe gout – inborn defect of metabolism, striking joints) was not able to conceive an heir. Their marriage remained childless. Perhaps that is why Elisabetta tenderly took care of the younger Raphael. Not so much because foresaw future success – rather favor to his parents: graceful Maggia, mother of Raphael, adorn the Suite of the Duchess, his father Giovanni is not only a painter and decorator, but also an organizer of all kinds of entertainments at court, including the so beloved gems. In 8 years Rafael will lose a mother, and a society of educated, intelligent, gallant, Elisabetta, Duchess of Urbino, would contribute to the education and development of his taste for poetry, susceptibility to the beautiful. When the second wife of Giovanni Santi, a daughter, Elisabetta Gonzaga agreed to be the godmother, so in her honor, half-sister of Raphael will also be named Elisabetta.

For all that dedication Elisabetta husband was never in doubt. In 1497, the year of Urbino surrounded by the troops of Cesare Borgia. Stricken with gout, Guidobaldo commanded the defense of the city, defending the independence of Urbino. Because of the severe pain he could only move on a stretcher, and one day, the walls of the Duke was kidnapped by thugs Borgia and demanded for it a fantastic purchase. To save my husband, Elisabetta, hiding at that time in Mantua, sold their jewels and mortgaged hereditary allotments, and when this was not enough, took out a Bank loan at an exorbitant interest rate. Only thanks to her efforts, half-dead, the Duke returned home. And the treacherous Borgia, returning, Guidobaldo continued shamelessly Troll him, calling the "dear Italian brother" and sending gifts with a subtext: it was the silver barrel of oysters – a known means to increase potency, in different times – ancient sculpture of Venus and Eros. Meaning they were obviously mocking. Everyone knew about the intimate trouble of the family of Montefeltro. Relatives tried to persuade Elizabeth to divorce with her husband and more favorable Union – the Duchess did not budge.

And what about Rafael?


Rafael will go to Perugia, then Florence and finally to Rome, but will be happy from time to time to come to Urbino (although there is no longer be alive, his parents) because he liked the atmosphere of the Ducal court, in a much defined personality Elisabetta. Friend of Raphael, writer and diplomat Baldassare Castiglione Elisabetta will dedicate his famous treatise "the Court". Playboy, Baldassare with reverence write about the Duchess of Urbino, "chastity and dignity inherent in even her jokes and laughter".

This portrait of the 33-year-old Duchess commissioned Raphael with the purpose to send as a gift to my friend Isabella d'este another nezauryadnaya (although izvodimy their whims Leonardo and Titian) to the woman of his era, which was called la Primadonna del Rinascimento – the prima Donna of the Renaissance. She was Elisabetta, daughter – in- Isabella was married to her brother.

"In this diptych of the couple, writes the biographer of Raphael Alexander Makhov about portraits, Guidobaldo and Elisabetta, – young portrait artist managed to subtly convey the complex relationship that links this ruling childless couple who have never mutual affection, not to mention love. Smart ugly face 33-year-old Elizabeth reflects a longing for the sense of motherhood that she didn't had a chance to learn. As for the portrait of her younger spouse, it is the expression of weak will and hidden ailments, stachivaya worm his flesh. Unlike his strong-willed father, a young ruler of Urbino was a man of gentle and retiring. It is poorly understood in humans and are usually for Executive positions appointed by those who advised his wife, who played the role of a smart and caring wife-mother".

For 6 years Elisabetta Gonzaga (1471-1526) will survive Raphael (1483-1520) and by as much as 18 – my husband, Guidobaldo (1472-1508), the marriage with whom she often had to live in separation and feeling of loneliness. In distant Russia, the exhibition "Raphael. The poetry of the image" (September – December 2016) in the State Museum of fine arts. Pushkin, Elisabetta also came without Guidobaldo, whose portrait waited for her in the Uffizi.

Author: Anna Yesterday
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About the artwork

Art form: Painting

Subject and objects: Portrait

Style of art: Renaissance

Technique: Tempera

Materials: Wood

Date of creation: 1506

Size: 52.5×37.3 cm

Artwork in selections: 19 selections

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