Journey through the Dante Urbinate: Federico da Montefeltro
Returning to our voyage through the pages of the Dante Urbinate, today we will meet its patron, Federico da Montefeltro, a man of highly refined taste who played a key role in the Italian Renaissance.
Federico was born in 1422 and, by 1444, he had already taken the power and title of Duke of Urbino. He was a military man and a scholar; as a patron of the arts, he financed many great manuscripts and paintings. His library was the heart of the Ducal Palace of Urbino and was famous throughout Europe for its richness and opulence. This was to be the home of his most precious copy of the Divine Comedy, which Federico demanded to be made to the most luxurious standards.
Upon the Duke's death, the manuscript was unfortunately not yet finished and thus did not take its assigned place in the library. In the “Indice vecchio”, the oldest inventory of the Urbino collection made in 1487, the volume is listed as “not yet bound” and was thus placed in a secondary room of the library. This probably also explains its absence from the inventories made in the 16th century. When it was finished, it was bound and listed in the index of 1616 with its proper attribution.
Source: Ambrogio M. Piazzoni, Una nuova lettura della Commedia (A New Reading of the Divine Comedy), “La Divina Commedia di Federico da Montefeltro. Il Dante Urbinate. Commentario”.
Illumination from Dante Alighieri’s Divina Commedia, Ms. Urb. lat. 365, f. 1r, 1478-1482, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana.
Piero Della Francesca, Portrait of Federico da Montefeltro, 1465 - 1472, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence. © Haltadefinizione Image Bank | On concession of Ministero per i beni e le attività culturali - Gallerie degli Uffizi | Reproduction prohibited