JOOS van Wassenhove
(active c.1460-80)


Inlaid woodwork, height 221 cm
Palazzo Ducale, Urbino

Inside the Palazzo Ducale in Urbino, Federico da Montefeltro and his guests enjoyed several handsome suites of rooms. The crowning glory of Federico's private suite was his studiolo ("small study"). The densely carved, gilded, and coffered ceiling carries Federico's personal emblems and an inscription giving his noble titles and the date 1476, the decoration being part of extensive renovations and enhancements begun in 1474. The lower walls are lined with trompe l'oeil wood intarsia. Books, scholarly equipment, musical instruments, and even Federico's armour are all convincingly rendered, mimicking the actual objects kept behind the cupboard doors. It is a breathtaking essay in perspective, composition and craftsmanship, probably executed by Florentine craftsmen in the workshop of the architect and woodworker Giuliano da Maiano, following designs by several artists, including Botticelli.

Above the intarsia two rows of paintings depict paired exemplars of the major fields of scholarly learning from antiquity through to Federico's own time. Federico commissioned most of the paintings from the Flemish artist Joos van Wassenhove, who came to work at Federico's court.

Presently most of the original paintings are represented by large photographs, the originals having been removed to museums throughout Europe.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.