The Book, Cat, & Cat Book Lovers Almanac

of historical trivia regarding books, cats, and other animals. Actually this blog has evolved so that it is described better as a blog about cats in history and culture. And we take as a theme the advice of Aldous Huxley: If you want to be a writer, get some cats. Don't forget to see the archived articles linked at the bottom of the page.

July 21, 2013

July 21, 1476

It was a small world, that realm of real talent and real power that characterized the Italian Renaissance.

Alfonso d'Este was Lucrezia Borgia's third husband. Her father , Pope Alexander VI of the Catholic  church, was a defining principal,  along with her brother Cesare Borgia in arranging her marriages for political ends. Machiavelli would learn from these people how power worked. Her first husband, when he became useless to the Borgias , was persuaded to annul his marriage to Lucrezia, on the ground that he was impotent. Better that than the fate of Lucrezia's second husband, who was murdered, quite possibly on her brother's directive. Lucrezia Borgia's marriage (in 1502) to Alfonso d'Este (July 21, 1476 to October 31, 1534) was longer lasting.

Lucrezia Borgia (April 18, 1480 to June 24, 1519) was a  legendary beauty, but that was just part of the splendor around the ducal court of Alfonso D'Este, whose support of the arts would immortalize him after the fractured politics of the 16th century Italian peninsula were forgotten. Titian and Bellini were among those D'Este supported. And Dosso Dossi (ca. 1490 to 1542).

Dossi's portrait of Lucrezia Borgia is, for some reason I cannot figure out, considered by some the only verified portrait of this lady.

Dosso Dossi, whose brother studied with Raphael, was associated with the D'Este court for many decades. His Portrait of a young Man holding a Dog and a Cat, has been at the Ashmolean since 1958

Not withstanding the reasons to remember Alfonso D'Este, he was under no illusions about the source of his power. Notice in this portrait Dossi did of his patron, d'Este is leaning on a cannon.

Alfonso d'Este had in addition to duchies, a beautiful wife, and many artists, his own metal foundry.  Perhaps our Prince suspected, it was a brief world, that realm of real talent and real power that characterized the Italian Renaissance.

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