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Isabella d'Este (1474) Options
Posted: Sunday, May 18, 2014 12:00:00 AM
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Isabella d'Este (1474)

One of the leading women of the Italian Renaissance, d'Este was a major cultural and political figure. She had a shrewd political acumen and ruled Mantua as regent for her son after the death of her husband. Known as "The First Lady of the World," she was well-educated, a skilled musician and singer, and a renowned patron of the arts. Her simple style made her a trendsetter, and her fashion was imitated throughout Italy and France. Which artist did she repeatedly ask to paint her portrait? More...
Posted: Sunday, May 18, 2014 8:28:56 AM

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She repeatedly asked Leonardo da Vinci to paint her portrait, but he only made a drawing of her.
Posted: Sunday, May 18, 2014 2:46:34 PM

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The Lemon, One of Isabella d'Este's Many Status Symbols

Isabella d'Este, Marchioness of Mantua, (1474-1539) knew a status symbol when she saw one. In those days, the lemon tree was expensive and rare.

Isabella d’Este used lemons, lemon trees, lemon blossoms, lemon branches as backgrounds for her commissioned paintings and as decoration for her palace rooms and gardens.That Isabella's family , the Estes, Renaissance leaders of Ferrara, cultivated lemon trees in that town’s cold, foggy climate was a public indication of their wealth, a status symbol. After all, only the wealthy could afford the imported plants, a rarity in these northern climes; only they could employ the servants needed to cart the trees from indoors to outdoors in the spring and vice-versa in the autumn. Only they had the wherewithal to build special buildings, 'limonaie', primitive greenhouses, to house the plants.
Even before Isabella married Francesco Gonzaga at the age of sixteen, she was well-versed in Greek and Latin, Roman history and literature. She had probably read about lemon trees, and lemon branch garlands, used in Imperial Rome as decoration. She knew Greek and Roman brides wore lemon blossoms as symbols of purity and fertility.

Isabella d'Este and the Lemon
By Isabella's day, the late 1400's and early 1500's, lemons had taken on real symbolic weight, signifying longevity, purification, friendship and healing. Because lemon trees could flower and bear fruit simultaneously, they came to symbolize both Venus and the Virgin, and continued to be used in wedding ceremonies to represent love and chastity.

The Ferrara Este family made full use of them for the embellishment of their palaces and for the enhancement of their prestige. Isabella, carrying on her family tradition, was intensely interested in gardens and symbols of classical times.

Decorating her 'studiolo', a small, personal museum in the vast Gonzaga castle in Mantua, with commissioned paintings and Roman and Greek artifacts, became Isabella’s passion. She bought paintings by some of the best artists of the Renaissance. Lemons or lemon trees are depicted in at least two of these paintings.

Isabella commissioned Mantegna to paint 'The Parnassus', showing Mars and Venus being entertained by dancing muses and Apollo playing his lyre nearby. The mythical characters in the picture are surrounded by trellises and great lemon and orange trees, both blooming and bearing fruit. The second picture by Mantegna for the 'studiolo' was called 'Pallas Expelling the Vices', with Minerva (Pallas) driving various grotesque figures out of a garden. Some critics suggest that Minerva is actually a portrait of Isabella. Again, lemon trees dominate the vegetation in the painting.]

Henry Martinez
Posted: Sunday, May 18, 2014 7:46:46 PM

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This was an extremely impressive lady. I was amazed by her life, her abilities, her loyalties, her accomplishments. I wonder what da Vinci's problem was. Maybe he was to busy playing circle jerk with his pals. Eight children and cleavage showing her nipples, amazing. She sounds like she could be fun to be around. Did she have no lovers? It seems ashame the Lady was burdened and heart broken by such a scoundrel of a husband.
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