The Library of a 'Humanist Prince' Federico da Montefeltro and His Manuscripts [by M.G. Critelli]


The succession of these two periods, both of Florence and of Padua/Ferrara, should therefore be seen in light of a certain confluence of contributions, which coexisted with each other, albeit with different roles. The illuminators who arrive in Urbino from Ferrara, Padua, Mantua, Guglielmo Giraldi, Franco dei Russi, Alessandro Leoni, Giovanni Corenti, for example, do not appear in the court after 1478. Still, they are in contact with the court through Matteo Contugi as early as the late 1460s, as shown by the correspondence between him and Giraldi. Within the panorama of book illustration in the fifteenth-century, they represent the other great figurative pole. They speak the language of antiquaria, which originates from the visual reflection of Andrea Mantegna, for one, and subsequently spreads precisely through the transmission of books to the major Italian centers of artistic production (Rome, Naples). The influences of these periods gradually fade in an autonomous way, by a process that seems to have also involved Urbino. The arrival of the maestros from Padua and Ferrara who produced Urb. lat. 10, Urb. lat. 151, Urb. lat. 365, for the duke seems to be one of the channels through which the so-called palace scriptorium was structured. The place where the Paduan-Ferrarese masters actually worked, however, is still debated. It is not clear whether their production of miniatures for the Montefeltro library was carried out in their cities of origin (Ferrara, Padua, Mantova, etc.), whether in Urbino or whether in both places, in an “itinerant” fashion.