Pedro Berruguette (?).  Federico da Montefeltro and His Son Guidobaldo.  Ca. 1476-1477.  Oil on panel, 53 x 30 inches.

          While Italian city-states were preeminent in Europe, upper-class families in Spain, too, enjoyed unprecedented wealth, which they also used to cultivate their tastes in literature and art and thus substantially determine the culture of the Early Renaissance.  The courts of the local rulers became places where educated men -- and on occasion, women -- could exchange ideas and discuss philosophical issues.

          In this double portrait, the seated Federico wears the armor of a papal officer while reading a book -- symbols that established him as both a soldier and a scholar, an ideal of Italian courtiers.  His son wears an elaborate robe and holds a scepter, symbol of power.  Federico, founder of the Montefeltro dynasty, was one of the greatest condottieri, or soldier of fortune, of his day.

          Created Duke of Urbino and captain of the papal forces by Pope Sixtus IV in 1474, he devoted his energies to making Urbino a model for Italian Renaissance courts.  Under this short-lived dynasty Urbino was transformed from a sleepy hill town with no cultural history into a major center of Renaissance life.  Federicoís dream ended with his son, the last of the Montefeltro line.

          Pedro Berruguete was Spainís first great Renaissance artist.  He studied painting in Naples and worked briefly in Urbino before returning to his homeland.