The life and work of Isabella d’Este
Wednesday 7 March 2018
Novelist, broadcaster and critic. Sarah Dunant read history at Cambridge, then worked for many years as a cultural journalist in radio and television on such programmes as Kaleidoscope (BBC Radio 4), The Late Show (BBC 2), and Night Waves (BBC Radio 3). She has published 13 novels, taught renaissance studies at Washington University, St Louis, is a visiting tutor on the MA in creative writing at Oxford Brooks and has lectured around the world at festivals and conferences. Her last five novels have been set within the Italian Renaissance. Her latest, In the Name of the Family (published in 2017) completes the story of the Borgia family and the remarkable period of Italian history in which they lived.
In an age where women had little public power, Isabella d’ Este (1474 – 1539) stands out as a formidable figure. She was one of the first and greatest female patrons and art collectors of the Renaissance. And her court in Mantua was filled with writers and poets of distinction. Her clever, educated and entitled voice sings out from thousands of letters which she composed in her meticulously designed study, and images – from Da Vinci to Titian – bring alive a woman whose eye for fashion was every bit as keen as her eye for art.
Caption: Portrait of Isabella d’Este (or Isabella in Black) by Titian
Suggested Further reading:
- Isabella D’Este: Marchioness of Mantua, by Julia Cartwright, (1905, reissued 2002, University Press of the Pacific)https://www.flickr.com/photos/fyldedfas/albums/72157666583812308
- In the Name of the Family, by Sarah Dunant, (Virago, 2018)
- Sarah Dunant’s podcasts on history are available on the BBC Radio4 website
The notes for this lecture can be downloaded and printed here