Guidobaldo II della Rovere, Duke of Urbino, ca. 1580
Oil on copper, frame of gilded copper; frame 7 1/8 x 4 7/8 in. (18.1 x 12.5 cm)
Purchase, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Gift, 2009 (2009.224)
This commanding miniature captures the mature likeness of Guidobaldo II della Rovere (1514–1574), duke of Urbino, painted some two decades after he received the Order of the Golden Fleece, which hangs from a jeweled ribbon around his neck. His aristocratic pose and rich civilian dress belie the fact that Guidobaldo was a professional soldier (condottiere) who maintained his state by hiring out his services as a military commander (alluded to by the armor and batons of command behind him). Doubtless copies from a larger portrait on canvas, this was one of a series of twelve miniatures on copper portraying members of the della Rovere family that Guidobaldo's son Francesco Maria II commissioned in about 1580. The miniatures had matching gilded frames, each inscribed on the reverse with the subject's name and title. Neither the identity of the painter nor the fate of the other miniatures, which passed by inheritance into the Medici collection in Florence, is known.
This fine portrait enhances the Museum's collection of Renaissance parade armor by Filippo Negroli of Milan. The Museum possesses a dolphin-shaped right shoulder defense from the same Negroli armor as the helmet and breastplate illustrated in Guidobaldo's portrait.