The manuscripts Urb. lat. 410, 491, 740 and 883 (datable to before 1474) all contain equestrian portraits of the Count of Urbino: at the opening of the manuscript, in the antiporta or on the incipit page, the man of arms is depicted, drawn according to a directly classical inspiration, in profile. In these manuscripts the portrait is closely linked to the text and serves as a celebration of military victories - Rimini (Urb. lat. 883) and Volterra (Urb. lat. 491) - and of his political/diplomatic exploits: Federico is represented in front of the Persian sovereign, which evokes the figure of King Cyrus present in the work by Xenophon that the manuscript contains (Urb. lat. 410), but also that of Uzun Hasan (c. 1420-1478). With him, Federico shared the commitment to oppose the common Turkish enemy (see Piemontese, L'ambasciatore di Persia, p. 543; on Federico's portraits see Paniccia, L'icona di un principe, pp. 86-94.
Urb. lat. 410, f. 1r
The official portraiture depicts Federico in profile from the left, thus avoiding having to represent the right eye, lost due to an injury with a lance that hit him during a tournament in honor of Francesco Sforza, who had recently become Duke of Milan. It was for this reason that, in order not to obstruct the view of the left eye, he himself had the upper part of the nose cut off, which thus became his characteristic feature. However, there are some exceptional cases in which he is shown in profile from the right, as if still had his lost eye, as for example in Urb. lat. 273, 491 and 508. Urb. lat. 93 instead depicts it in an unusual way, almost full-face, elderly and demure, with the right eye closed–to emphasize the injury–in the pious act of removing his hat (in the tabular miniature below, the Virgin and Saint Bernard are represented; see Garzelli, I miniatori fiorentini p. 117; Labriola, Scheda nr. 3, p. 152).
On the other hand, a numismatic flavor may be detected in the portraits of Urb. lat. 273, 352, 1193, albeit, in the latter case, in semantic association with the military leader; here the portrait is glued (on f. 3r) to a collection of writings in praise of the duke, curated by Federico Veterani, who placed the image of Federico under a military tent probably designed by himself and surrounded by some ornaments, two cherubs and a heraldic oak, with some of his verses in praise of the lord of Urbino.
On the upper pastedown of Urb. lat. 508, Federico is represented as a man of letters: in his hands he holds an open book bound in dark green leather with silver clasps at the corners and a golden trim; he converses with a character whose identity cannot be ascertained, perhaps Cristoforo Landino, author of the Disputationes Camaldulenses contained in the manuscript, with a preface dedicated to Federico.
Urb. lat. 508, front counterguard
A half-bust is also present on the binding of Barb. lat. 4295, which belonged to the library of Urbino and then came to that of the Barberini family: two medallions containing other portraits of Federico are impressed in relief, the same that are present on a medal made in 1478 by Gianfrancesco Enzola (see Hernard, Gianfrancesco Enzola, pp. 10-12), the original of which has been lost but of which Urb. lat. 1418 preserves a reproduction engraved on two leather rounds (see Bindings).