Tag Archives: Leonardo da Vinci

Isabella d’Este and Leonardo da Vinci – Sarah Cockram talks about her new book and its relationship with an exciting recent discovery in Renaissance art

This is a guest post from Sarah Cockram, author of Isabella d’Este and Francesco Gonzaga: Power Sharing at the Italian Renaissance Court

Isabella deste and francesco gonzagaMy book Isabella d’Este and Francesco Gonzaga: Power Sharing at the Italian Renaissance Court has come out just in time for those wanting to know more about the subject of a new painting attributed to Leonardo da Vinci.  The portrait of Isabella d’Este (marchesa of Mantua, 1474–1539) has just been discovered in a Swiss bank vault, in a story that would not be out of place in a Dan Brown novel.

A sketch of the Italian Renaissance noblewoman by Leonardo da Vinci is well known and can be seen in the Louvre but it was
believed that, despite Isabella’s wishes, the sketch was never worked up into a painted portrait. The new painting, claimed to be by Leonardo and his assistants (although, if so, unusual in being on canvas rather than wood), shows Isabella as an enigmatic figure, and comparisons are already being drawn to the Mona Lisa.

Isabella would certainly have enjoyed the controversy and being linked to the famous artist. Isabella strove to be recognised as the foremost woman of her times.  Renowned today as the leading female patron of art in Renaissance Italy, Isabella was also an eminent supporter of music and literature; a trendsetter and fashion icon; and a sharp politician.

As my new book shows, the marchesa worked together with her husband Francesco Gonzaga to keep their state afloat in a turbulent age, and she was not above intrigue and double dealing.  She held her own against the Borgias and has aptly been described as ‘Machiavelli in skirts’.

Sarah CockramSarah D.P. Cockram is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the School of History, Classics and Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh, UK. Her book casts new light on a long misunderstood relationship and, drawing on largely unpublished archival material, reveals a world of behind-the-scenes diplomatic activity; network-building; sexual politics and seduction; court rivalries; Machiavellian intrigues and assassinations.

Re-reading Leonardo: The Treatise on Painting across Europe, 1550–1900

One of Ashgate’s bestselling Art books this year has been Re-reading Leonardo: The Treatise on Painting across Europe, 1550–1900, Edited by Claire Farago.

‘This collection – concerning the historical fortunes and effects of Leonardo’s Treatise on Painting – is long overdue. Importantly, this volume turns our attention to the reception of Leonardo in a pan-European context, making the treatise of interest not only to Renaissance and early modern art historians, but to those who study later periods.’

Lyle Massey, University of California, Irvine, USA

‘These essays offer a well-rounded analysis of the reception of Leonardo’s Treatise by tracing trajectories of its development through a variety of cultural, historical, social, technical, critical, nationalistic, and reappropriated forms. It is the first book to address, within its historical framework, the diverse network of cultural interchange about the value of ideas associated (directly and remotely) with Leonardo da Vinci and the traditions of his time. A compelling feature of this approach is the way in which it involves this diverse network of professionals over the centuries, including not only painters, sculptors, illustrators, printmakers, and architects, but also biographers, theorists, natural philosophers, translators, astronomers, publishers, engineers, theologians, aristocrats, lawyers, politicians, entrepreneurs, and collectors.’

Matthew Landrus, Rhode Island School of Design, USA

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