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Battista Sforza, Countess of Urbino:A privileged status in Motherhood

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posted on 2019-09-05, 07:52 authored by Elaine Hoysted
This paper will examine the posthumous representation of Battista Sforza, countess of the court of Urbino during the last quarter of the fifteenth century. Battista died of pneumonia as a result of complications after childbirth. With her final pregnancy, the countess produced a son, the sole heir to his father’s name and power. The birth of Guidobaldo and Battista’s success in securing the continuation of the Montefeltro lineage, name and rule clearly influenced the count’s decision to commemorate his wife through numerous art works which were commissioned shortly after her death and can be considered as unusual within the context of this period. Through the successful delivery of a male heir, Battista received a privileged posthumous position within her conjugal family. This thesis stems from an argument made by David Herlihy in which he states that due to motherhood, Renaissance Italian women were elevated in status. Of particular importance to the discussion of the high regard which Battista achieved posthumously is the creation of the myth to explain both the significance of her son’s delivery as well as the divine assistance given to her to conceive the child. This paper will examine two art works commemorating the countess, Justus Van Ghent’s Communion of the Apostles and Piero della Francesca’s Diptych of Federico da Montefeltro and Battista Sforza. As will become apparent through the examination of the visual evidence, the images can be separated into two categories; those intended for an ecclesiastical location and those designated to be displayed within the secular environment. The division of locations for the art works reflects the double persona of a consort; as a wife and mother and as a capable ruler in her husband’s absence.



Socheolas;4(1), pp.100-116


Department of Sociology, University of Limerick





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