(active c. 1500 in Milan)

Ludovico Maria Sforza

Onyx with gold frame, 3 x 2 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

Ludovico Sforza (also known as Ludovico il Moro, 1452-1508), was Duke of Milan from 1489 until his death. A member of the Sforza family, he was the fourth son of Francesco Sforza. He was famed as a patron of Leonardo da Vinci and other artists, and presided over the final and most productive stage of the Milanese Renaissance. He is probably best known as the man who commissioned from Leonardo the The Last Supper.

As collecting the antique gems and cameos gathered speed in the second half of the fifteenth century, artists began to create portraits in hard stones in addition to medals. Vasari wrote of a group of artists who engraved cameos and gems, and he cited specifically one Domenico dei Cammei (Domenico of the Cameos), a Milanese, who made a portrait of Duke Ludovico il Moro in intaglio on a ruby. Two onyx cameos portraying il Moro have been preserved, and they are attributed to Domenico dei Cammei on the basis of Vasari's description. One of them is in the Kunstkammer of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, and the other in the Museo degli Argenti in the Palazzo Pitti, Florence. In each portrait the duke is shown facing right his long hair styled in a way characteristic in the 1490s.