Portrait of Battista Sforza, Countess of Urbino


Francesca_Sforza.jpg

Creator: Piero della Francesca
Title: Portrait of Battista Sforza, Countess of Urbino
Date: 1466
Media: Tempera on panel
Measurement: 47 x 33 cm
Repository: Florence, Uffizzi Gallery

The panel was painted as a pair to the profile portrait of her husband Federico da Montefeltro, Count of Urbnio. The image captivates the viewer with the extensive landscape background, an influence of the Flemish painter Hans Memlinc[1] . Equally as remarkable is Sforza’s garment and appearance. Here Piero visually manifests the high-ranking position of the Countess of Urbino[2] : the detail in the gold sleeve, the glimmer of her precious jewels, and the intricacy of her hairstyle. As for her face it is quite luminous and light in tone, a feature that can be attributed to the white powder used by the aristocrats of the time or perhaps a representation of the funeral (death) mask [3] used in the time of the Countess.

Aside from the obvious beauty in the painting, I found the prominence of the painting in the fact that it is a pair to her husband, giving the countess an outward level of authority, evident to the viewer. The panels are both of equal size, they face each other and in the background their vast territory. This can be attributed as a sign of respect to the Countess as she was celebrated in her life [4] . The verso of the painting also honors the coupe in their success.




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  1. ^ Tinagli, Paola. Women in Italian Renaissance Art: gender, representation, and identity. Manchester, UK and New York: Manchester University Press, 1997. Print.
  2. ^ Bertelli, Carlo. Piero della Francesca. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1992. Print.
  3. ^ Professor Maria Antonia Rinaldi, SACI 2011 – Argues that the thin black line outlining the Countess’ face could represent a funeral mask.
  4. ^ Allegretti, Pietro. Piero della Francesca. New York: Rizzoli, 2006. Print.