Piero della Francesca wrote how his books and paintings owed their clarity to the great light of Federico da Montefeltro, count and then duke of Urbino. The artist’s treatises on perspective and platonic bodies were his gifts to the ducal library. His double portrait of Federico da Montefeltro and Battista Sforza was first documented in the ducal palace, his Montefeltro Altarpiece in the ducal mausoleum of San Bernardino, and his Flagellation of Christ in the cathedral of Urbino next to the ducal palace. Nonetheless, the genesis and meaning of the latter two religious paintings are still open to much debate. Some new documents, along with close looking, shed light on the conservation and interpretation of the Flagellation, and on the Franciscan and funerary context of the Montefeltro Altarpiece, thereby illuminating the significance they may have held for Federico. And for Piero.
Machtelt Brüggen Israëls specializes in the patronage, artistry, technique, and function of Italian Renaissance painting. She was a fellow at Harvard’s Villa I Tatti, for which she co-authored and edited a volume on Sassetta’s Borgo San Sepolcro altarpiece and the catalogue of the Berenson collection. She was involved in the exhibitions “Le Arti a Siena nel primo Rinascimento” (Siena 2010), “La primavera del Rinascimento” (Florence 2013 and Paris 2014), and “Piero in America” (New York 2013). Her current projects include a monograph on Piero della Francesca.