Isabella d'Este

Marchesa of Mantova, she was born in Ferrara in 1474 and died in Mantova in 1539. Doughter of the Duke Ercole I of Ferrara and of Eleonor of Aragon, when only sixteen she was married to Francesco Gonzaga.
She was one of the most outstanding and refined women of the Renaissance, keen on music and poetry. Her son Federico was educated by the philosopher Pietro Pomponazzi and she made Mantova a cultural center.
Isabella d'Este, an experienced diplomatic, guided the policies of the duchy firmly, both during her husband's imprisonment in Venice, obtaining his liberation through negotiations, and after his death (1519).
Isabella, keen on beautiful things and antiques enriched the rooms of the Palace and expecially her Studio and the Grotto, two small rooms given to her by her husband. For her Studio, Isabella called the painter Giovan Luca Palombeni who decorated with friezes and coat-of-arms the doors of the built-in-wardrobes that covered it entirely. These were later on replaied by a series of allegorical paintings by Mantegna.
For the Grotto she called the brothers Mola who inlaid architectures of imaginary cities and palaces, musical instruments and graceful court scenes on wooden panels. In this room, Isabella gathered all kinds of masterpieces: small bronzes, precious manuscripts, musical instruments and a globe on which she followed Columbus's voyages.
Only three of the 1600 pieces, she had gathered, are still left here.

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