Duke Federico, the art historian D’Orazio: “Beauty for political prestige”

by ENRICO MASCILLI MIGLIORINI

URBINO – Six hundred years after his birth, we continue to talk about the Duke of Urbino. With Urbino, everyone in the art world will remember in June the boss, duke of the only territory of the Marches of the Vatican independent of the pope. Art historian and essayist Constantine of Horaceauthor among others of Secret Raphaelhe said to everyone Duchy why Federico da Montefeltro is still so important.

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According to historians, the real prince of the Renaissance is Federico da Montefeltro and the capital is Urbino, is this true?

I can only subscribe. Federico’s example still represents what a single man can do today. He understands, and this is the first time since the Roman Empire, that taste and art can become a vehicle for asserting prestige on an international scale: this is how he creates a system. With him Urbino is one of the capitals of Europe, only by the will of a man. The difference compared to the other capital, Florence, is enormous. In the Tuscan city there is a community that chooses the Renaissance as the style that best represents the ideal of costume that it intends to have, and as a society it promotes and supports it. But Federico is alone and he does it first.

Duke Federico, the art historian D’Orazio: “Beauty for political prestige”

Costantino d’Orazio

How did he do it?

Federico da Montefeltro had an international outlook. He spoke with Europe from a small center, which many large Italian cities lacked. The famous phrase Baldassare Castiglione, that “Urbino is a city shaped like a palace” is valid because it is the concretization of a way of life: a place that does not live without its patron. In the 15th century, Federico transformed the monarchical regime into a political ideal under which a community was gathered, a very modern fact. He had the ability to create a center of life, which had the territory as its pivot. He does this by bringing paintings from Dear Fabrice, or call the tastes of artists at court Piero della Francesca, brought from Tuscany.

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So why do we immediately think of Florence when we talk about the Renaissance?

Because Frederick was unique and his successors were unable to imitate him. In this sense, the transfer of its immense library and its remains from Urbino to Florence in the 17th century was a very strong symbolic gesture. Moreover, we live in a problem of perspective. It has been claimed that art is made up of a divine trinity: Leonardo, Michelangelo and Raphael, who, among others, was a native of Urbino. Florence was more successful because if you want to admire the works of the greatest, that’s where you have to go, where there are tangible traces. Urbino is and will be a city of art.

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And will Urbino still be able to live from art in the future?

Of course, now a communication effort is needed, starting from this six hundredth anniversary. Everything I say is written in the books, but it has to come true. Urbino has no alternative but to live from culture: it has no team in Serie A and it has no sea. Even if with 1900 and globalization Urbino becomes peripheral again, it must reaffirm its pre-eminence in the Renaissance. It is his real cradle. Starting with students and universities, we must think that when we walk around Urbino we are moving through a work of art: in the real “Ideal City”. Urbino must be promoted because when you are there you are part of an idea: that of Federico.

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