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CONTENTS xxiii

CHAPTER XVIII

1500—1506

PA01

Isabella's relations with painters during the early years

of the sixteenth century—Her letters to Leonardo da

Vinci—Correspondence with Fra Pietro da Novellara,

Angelo del Tovaglia, Manfredi, and Amadori—She

asks Perugino for a painting for her studio—Descrip-

tion of the Triumph of Chastity composed by Parida

da Ceresara—Perugino's delays—Correspondence with

Malatesta, Tovaglia, &c. ... 317-340

CHAPTER XIX

1501—1507

Isabella asks Giovanni Bellini for a picture—Her corre-

spondence with Lorenzo da Pavia and Michele Vianello

—The subject changed to a Nativity—Delays of the

painter—Isabella calls in Alvise Marcello—Asks for

her money to be returned—The picture is completed

and sent to Mantua in 1504—Isabella's negotiations

with Giovanni Bellini through Pietro Bembo for

another picture, which is never painted . 341-361

CHAPTER XX

1504—1512

Mantegna's last works for Isabella d'Este — Illness and

debts—He appeals to Isabella for help, and sells her

his antique bust of Faustina—Calandra's description of

his Comus—Death of Mantegna and tribute of Lorenzo

da Pavia—Pictures in Andrea's workshop—The Comus

finished by Lorenzo Costa — Letters of Antonio

Galeazzo Bentivoglio to Isabella — The Triumph of

Poetry or Court of Isabella—Costa's portrait of the

Marchesa—Francia paints the portrait of her son

Federico and her own—Correspondence on the sub-

ject with Casio and Lucrezia Bentivoglio—Death of

Giorgione ..... 362-3<)2

Genealogical Tables .... 393

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

Isabella D'este ....... Frontispiece

From the Charcoat Drawing by Leonardo Da Vinci, in the Louvre {Photogravure)

Lodovico Gonzaoa And His Sons . . . To face page 30' By Andrea Mantegna

Ponte San Giorgio, Castello E Duomo, Man

Tova „ 70

The Death Of The Virgin, With Mantua In

The Background • „ 90

By Andrea Manteona

The Madonna Della Vittoria, With The Kneeling

Figure Of The Marquis Francesco . . „ 126

By Andrea Manteona, in the Louvre (Photogravure)

Parnassus ........ ,,158

From the Picture by ANDREA Mantkgna, in the
Louvre (Photogravure)

The Portrait Medal Of Isabella D'este . . „ 170

By CRISTOFORO ROMANO, from the Jmprestion let in Jewets, now in the Imperial Mutcum, Vienna (Photogravure)

La Beata Osanna „ 276

By F. BONSIGNORI

Castello Di Mantova ., S62

ISABELLA D'ESTE

CHAPTER I

1474—1490

Birth of Isabella d'Este—Her betrothal to Francesco Gonzaga— Visit of the Mantuan envoy to Ferrara—Her letters to the Marquis — Mantegna's Madonna—Elisabetta Gonzaga visits Ferrara—Personal charms of Isabella—He* education and teachers—Classical studies and love of music—Cultured tastes of her parents—Music and art at their court—Cosimo Tura and Ercole Roberti—Marriage of Isabella—Her reception at Mantua.

"On the 18th of May 1474 a daughter was born to Madonna Leonora and Duke Ercole, and she was given the name of Isabella, and baptized by the Bishop of Cyprus, the Venetian Ambassador in Ferrara."1

So a contemporary Ferrara diarist, whose chronicle was published by Muratori, records the birth of Duke Ercole's elder daughter, Isabella d'Este. The event took place in the ancient palace on the Cathedral square which had been the home of the Este princes long before Bartolino da Novara reared the massive walls and crenellated towers of the Castello Rosso at the close of the fourteenth century. There Giotto and Petrarch had both been entertained as the guests of princes who, even in those early days, 2 ERCOLE D'ESTE

1 Muratori, Italiearum Rerum Scriptores, vol. xxiv. p. 250. VOL. I. A

showed the love of art and letters that distinguished this illustrious race. There Pisanello and Piero della Francesca painted at the Court of Duke Ercole's elder brothers, Leonello and Borso, and the Venetian master, Jacopo Bellini, introduced the picturesque loggia of the old palace in the background of his drawing of the Queen of Sheba's visit to Solomon. Duke Ercole added the grand marble staircase of the inner court, and the great hall where Ariosto's comedies were performed, which was burnt down just before the poet's death.

Three passions, says Frizzi, the historian of Ferrara,1 ruled the Duke's heart, the love of building, of the theatre, and of travel. All three were inherited, in no small measure, by his daughter Isabella. But the execution of Ercole's favourite plans was hindered during the early part of his reign by frequent wars and political troubles. One night, when Isabella was only two years old, and her brother Alfonso was still an infant, the Duke's nephew, Niccolo d'Este, suddenly attacked the palace at the head of a band of armed conspirators, and Duchess Leonora and her three children had barely time to escape by the covered way into the Castello; and before she was eight the Venetian armies invaded her father's dominions, and planted the Lion of St. Mark in the park of his villa at Belfiore, while the Duke himself lay at the point of death in the Castello. All" these dangers, however, were safely overcome by the valour and skilful diplomacy of the Duke, loyally supported by his brave wife and faithful subjects, and the treaty concluded at Bagnolo in 1484 was followed by a long period of peace and prosperity.

1 Storia di Ferrara, vol. iv.

BETROTHAL OF ISABELLA 3

Meanwhile, Isabella grew up under her good mother's watchful eyes. When, in the summer of 1477, Leonora took her young family to visit her old father, King Ferrante, at Naples, her three-yearold daughter was already a fascinating child, and her uncle Federico, afterwards King of Naples, was heard to say that if she were not his niece he would like to make her his bride! At the old king's urgent request, the Duchess consented to leave her younger daughter Beatrice at her grandfather's court for the next eight years, but brought Isabella back with her to Ferrara. Three years afterwards the child-princess was betrothed to young Giovanni Francesco Gonzaga, the eldest son of Federico, Marquis of Mantua.

The two houses were already closely connected, both by friendship and marriage. Leonello, the accomplished Duke, whose hooked nose and low forehead are familiar to us in Pisanello's medals and portraits, had married Federico's aunt, Margherita Gonzaga, and his own sister Lucia had been the wife of Margherita's brother, Carlo Gonzaga. Margherita, whose charming portrait, with its background of columbines and butterflies, painted by Pisanello at the time of her wedding, is still preserved in the Louvre, died in July 1439, only four years after her marriage. But her brother, the Marquis Lodovico, had proved a loyal friend to Duke Ercole, and had refused to support his. nephew Niccolo in his plot to seize the Duchess and her children. His son and successor, Federico, showed the same cordial feeling for his neighbour, and paid several visits to Ferrara. Early in April 1480, he sent his trusted servant, Beltramino Cusatro, to propose a marriage between his eldest son, a boy of fourteen, and the Duke's little

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