JOOS van Wassenhove
(active c.1460-80)

Cardinal Bessarione

c. 1476
Oil on wood, 116 x 56 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris

Twenty-eight panels representing illustrious men of every period adorned the studiolo (study) of Federigo da Montrefeltro in the Palazzo Ducale in Urbino. Among those portrayed were politicians, philosophers, men of science and of letters, and ecclesiastics, such as Hippocrates, Dante, Plato, Aristotle, Ptolemy, St Augustine, Cicero, Virgil, Homer, Euclid, Pius II, Sixtus IV. In this room devoted to reading and meditation, the series expressed the duke's aspirations and offered him intellectual and moral models. The Flemish painter Joos van Wassenhove (Justus of Ghent) worked on the decoration of the room until 1474; another painter, the Spanish Pedro Berruguete completed the project in 1476, altering it however.

The twenty-eight portraits - fourteen of which are now in the Louvre - were arranged in two rows one above the other on the four walls of the studiolo, separated by small columns.