Italian Renaissance patron of the arts, Isabella d’Este, was immortalized in a portrait by famed artist Leonardo da Vinci in 1499-1500. Measuring 61 cm in height and 46.5 cm wide, the drawing was made using black and red chalk, portraying an idealized version of Isabella reflecting the universal beauty Da Vinci pursued. In terms of style, the portrait details Isabella’s profile view and frontal view of her shoulders.
The artwork was found in a private collection in Switzerland and has been carbon-dated to the early 16th century; scientists speculate that it could have even been drawn during da Vinci’s stay with Isabella as his guest. The intricate lines created by da Vinci give incredible detail to the piece. The viewer can see every fine hair on her head and every subtle curve on her neck.
Isabella D’Este played a significant role as one of Italy’s most prominent humanist patrons of learning and art throughout The Renaissance era. The portrait shows both power and sophistication alongside intellectual strength implied by her literary pursuits – this can be seen as a preview to Da Vinci’s other works such as Mona Lisa where he blurred real life observation into ideal images reflecting personal vision rather than objective reality.