Portrait of Leonello d’Este

Pisanello
1441–1444

“He had a gentle way of speaking, serene forehead, joyful eyes, and was always completely composed in his movements, comely as he was.” This is how the humanist Angelo Decembrio describes, in 1426, the Marquis of Ferrara Leonello d’Este, the protagonist of one of the most cultured and refined Italian courts. This portrait was probably painted on the occasion of a famous painting competition in 1441, with such contenders as Jacopo Bellini and Pisanello. The profile takes up the model of the ancient medals but meticulously investigates the distinctive features of the face, which stands out against the dark background, animated by the colours of a rose garden.

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