Artist: Rogier van der Weyden (Netherlandish, Tournai ca. 1399–1464 Brussels)
Date: ca. 1460
Medium: Oil on wood
Dimensions: Overall 12 1/2 x 8 3/4 in. (31.8 x 22.2 cm): painted surface, each side 11 3/4 x 8 in. (29.8 x 20.3 cm)
Credit Line: The Friedsam Collection, Bequest of Michael Friedsam, 1931
Accession Number: 32.100.43
Francesco was the son of Leonello d'Este, ruler of Ferrara, but he received his education in the Netherlands at the court of Philip the Good, duke of Burgundy. The hammer and ring may be jousting prizes or symbols of power, and the unusual white background could refer to the Este family’s livery colors (white, red, and green).
Rogier van der Weyden was one of the most influential painters of the fifteenth century. The elegant, stylized lines of the sitter’s face and hands are among the qualities that established Rogier’s supremacy as a court portraitist in the Netherlands.
The Este family coat of arms and crest on the reverse of the panel emphasize the heraldic quality of the portrait. The inscription, "v[ot]re tout…francisque" (entirely yours, Francesco), forms a dedication to the portrait’s recipient, perhaps a friend or member of Philip the Good’s court. The "m" and "e," stand for "marchio estensis," the title extended to Francesco. The enigmatic scratched inscription in the upper left, "non plus / courcelles," may refer to the village in Burgundy where Francesco died.