Francesco Francia

Portrait of Federico Gonzaga (1510)

This charming portrait of the ten-year-old Federico Gonzaga was painted in Bologna, where he was taken hostage. It was sent to his mother, Isabella d’Este, in Mantua to console her during his absence. It took Francia twelve days to paint and was then sent to Isabella for criticism. Subsequently taken to Rome to be admired (and compared with the youth, who had also been taken to Rome), it was eventually restored to Isabella, who then gave it to the poet Gian Francesco Zaninello, in return for a book of sonnets. Francesco’s black hat and gold embroidered black gown were much in vogue; as future ruler he holds the pommel of a sword. His winsome gaze is exceptional in fifteenth-century portraits. (via metmuseum)
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