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Title:‘On account of high merits’: The portrait medals of Isabella d’Este and the image of the female collector
Author(s):Hall, Sierra
Advisor(s):Rosenthal, Lisa
Department / Program:Art & Design
Discipline:Art History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:M.A.
Genre:Thesis
Subject(s):Isabella d'Este
portrait medals
early modern Italy
Renaissance
women's collecting
women's patronage
studiolo
Abstract:Isabella d’Este was among the most prominent female collectors in early modern Italy. While her collection of art and antiquities was quite large and diverse, this thesis focuses on a particularly unique object—her opulently embellished personal portrait medal. This gold and diamond encrusted medal was kept in Isabella’s private studiolo; however, there was also a base medal version which was mass produced and widely circulated. This paper examines the ways Isabella d’Este negotiated her anomalous position as a woman patron and collector within the courtly practices of Humanism. In particular, the discussion focuses on the ways in which the portrait medals functioned as a means of identity construction within both the private, elite space of her studiolo and wider realm of public exchange and discourse. The dual functions and meanings of these medals enable us to see how Isabella constructed her identity as a collector, an intellectual, a public figure, and a courtly woman of “high merit.”
Issue Date:2021-04-23
Type:Thesis
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/110528
Rights Information:Copyright 2021 Sierra Hall
Date Available in IDEALS:2021-09-17
Date Deposited:2021-05


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