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.
As established in a fundamental article by Kantorowicz (1939–40), the sitter of this supremely aristocratic portrait is the natural son of Leonello d'Este. As was the custom at court, Francesco was sent abroad for his military training and in 1444 arrived in Liège; he joined the court of Philip the Good (1396–1467) and then that of his son and successor Charles the Bold (1433–1477), who he had first served as steward of the household. We have notices of Francesco's participation in battles and jousts, and on diplomatic missions that brought him back to Italy on a number of occasions. In 1471 he ill-advisedly supported the claims of his half-brother Niccolò to the duchy and was exiled by his uncle, Duke Ercole d'Este. The last notice of him is in 1475, when he was Captain of Westerloo at Lille.
It was probably around 1460, in Brussels, that Francesco sat to Rogier, who had been appointed official town painter in 1436. About the same time he painted portraits of both Philip the Good and Charles the Bold. Francesco's fashionably Burgundian black, fur-lined doublet reveals a red high collar and a gold chain. Unusually, Rogier shows him against a white rather than dark background, which greatly enhances the heraldic effect of the portrait (white, red, and green were the livery colors of the Este). The tendril-like fingers of the sitter's hands form an elegant pattern at lower left. One is placed on the edge of the picture field, while with the other Francesco holds a steel-headed hammer and a gold ring with a ruby. These objects may be attributes of his rank at court—Philip the Good holds a similar hammer in a miniature by Rogier showing the duke ceremoniously receiving a manuscript of the Chroniques du Hainault—or they may relate to a tournament. We know that such hammers were used to inspect the shields, crested helmets, and pennons of contestants; to knock out disqualified shields; and to referee the contest once the fighting began, while gold rings were sometimes awarded to the victor (Armstrong 1977). The heraldic quality of the portrait is underscored by the coat of arms on the reverse (see Additional Images), probably painted by an assistant. The motto—v[ot]re tout, or "entirely yours" (signifying, one imagines, Francesco's allegiance to the duke)—is accompanied by the entwined letters m and e, for "marchio estensis", the title of his father that was extended to Francesco at the Burgundian court. Francesco's name appears in French at the bottom of the panel. The enigmatic scratched inscription in the upper left, non plus / courcelles, has been variously explained, perhaps most compellingly as a hamlet or town in Burgundian territory where Francesco met his end (Nickel 1987).
The portrait of Francesco has much in common with Rogier's portrait of Philip the Good's natural son, Antoine, known as le Grand Bâtard (Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels), who is also shown holding an insignia associated with tournaments: an arrow (flung into the tilt-yard at the beginning and end of a tilt). But the portrait of Francesco is by far Rogier's most stylized court portrait, exhibiting precisely those qualities that established Rogier's supremacy as court portraitist in the Netherlands. And not merely in the Netherlands: Rogier enjoyed an enormous reputation in Italian court circles. Leonello d'Este commissioned works from him through a Lucchese merchant in Bruges, Paolo Poggi, while in 1460 Francesco Sforza sent a local artist, Zanetto Bugatto, to study with Rogier. When his brother, Alessandro Sforza, the lord of Pesaro, went to the Netherlands in 1458, he sat to Rogier and also acquired a portrait of Philip the Good. So regardless of whether Italian princes and artists studied Rogier's portrait of Francesco d'Este—for example, at the church congress in Mantua in 1459–60, which Francesco attended as part of the Burgundian embassy and at which time he visited Ferrara—there is no question that they were well acquainted with the artist's courtly manner, in which the alchemy of his imagination transforms observed data into refined object possessing "an ascetic gravity and an uncompromising stylistic purity" (Max J. Friedlaender, Early Netherlandish Painting: From Van Eyck to Bruegel, London, 1956 [ed. 1965], p. 23). It is indicative of Rogier's sense of appropriateness that Francesco's features are shared by those of the young magus in the Columba Altarpiece (Alte Pinakothek, Munich).
[2011; adapted from Christiansen 2011]
Inscription: Inscribed (reverse): v[ost]re tout (entirely yours) / m[archio] e[stensis] (marquis of Este) [twice] / francisque (Francesco); incised (reverse, upper left, at slightly later date): non plus / courcelles [no longer Courcelles; referring possibly to the village of Corcelles, near the Grandson battlefield, where the sitter may conceivably have died in 1476]
private collection or art market, Modena (until 1800; sold to Northwick); John Rushout, 2nd Lord Northwick, Harrow Park, Harrow-on-the-Hill (1800–23; his sale, Denew, Harrow Park, September 24, 1823, no. 16, "A very ancient small Portrait on panel, on the reverse side are the Arms of France quartered with the Eagle of the Family of Este, purchased at Modena in 1800," for 12 s.); J. Taylor (until 1828; his sale, June 23–28, 1828, Phillips, London, same description as in Northwick sale cat., 11 1/4 x 8 in., for £ 4.16, to Messman); Daniel Mesman (from 1828); Sir Audley Neeld, Grittleton House, Wiltshire (until 1909; as "Portrait of Leonello d'Este," sold to Douglas); [R. Langton Douglas, London, 1909]; [Colnaghi, London, 1910; sold to Speyer]; Sir Edgar Speyer, London and New York (1911–16; sold to Kleinberger); [Kleinberger, New York, 1916–18; sold for $80,000 to Friedsam]; Michael Friedsam, New York (1918–d. 1931)
London. Grafton Galleries. "Old Masters," October 4–December 28, 1911, no. 90 (as "Portrait of Leonello d'Este," by Rogier van der Weyden, lent by the Rt. Hon. Sir Edgar Speyer, Bart.).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Fiftieth Anniversary Exhibition," May 8–August 1920, unnumbered cat. (p. 8, lent by Michael Friedsam).
London. Burlington House. "Flemish & Belgian Art: 1300–1900," 1927, no. 25 (lent by Colonel Michael Friedsam).
New York. F. Kleinberger Galleries. "Flemish Primitives," 1929, no. 9 (lent by Col. Michael Friedsam).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Michael Friedsam Collection," November 15, 1932–April 9, 1933, no catalogue.
Ferrara. Palazzo dei Diamanti. "Pittura ferrarese del rinascimento," May–October 1933, no. 23 (as Meliaduse d'Este).
Paris. Musée de l'Orangerie. "De van Eyck à Bruegel," November–December 1935, no. 92.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "From Van Eyck to Bruegel: Early Netherlandish Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art," September 22, 1998–February 21, 1999, no. 23.
Bode Museum, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin. "Gesichter der Renaissance: Meisterwerke italienischer Portrait-Kunst," August 25–November 20, 2011, no. 71.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Renaissance Portrait from Donatello to Bellini," December 21, 2011–March 18, 2012, no. 71.
Bernard Berenson. Letter to Isabella Stewart Gardner. July 18, 1910 [published in Ref. Hadley 1987, p. 475], urges Mrs. Gardner to purchase this painting.
Roger Fry. "A Portrait of Leonello d'Este by Roger van der Weyden." Burlington Magazine 18 (January 1911), pp. 200–202, ill. p. 198 (in color) and p. 203 (reverse), publishes this painting as a portrait of Leonello d'Este (1407–1450), painted by Rogier van der Weyden in Ferrara, where he stopped en route to Rome for the Jubilee celebrations of 1450; states that in 1450 Rogier received payment in the Netherlands for certain paintings he made for Leonello's study at Belfiore and suggests that this portrait could be among these works; describes the Este arms, the impresa of Leonello, and the inscriptions on the reverse; notes that the impresa of the hooded lynx is explained elsewhere on a medal by the motto "Quae vides, ne vide" ("Do not see what you see"); reads two words inscribed on the reverse as "possibly intended for 'Voir Tout'" and notes that the words "Non plus Courcelles" were scratched in at a later date; comments that the use of a white background for such a portrait is unusual.
A. Van de Put. "Additional Note on the Coat of Arms of Leonello d'Este." Burlington Magazine 18 (January 1911), pp. 235–36, describes the coat of arms on the shield, the lynx with bandaged eyes (the device of Leonello), and the inscription "m[archio] e[stensis]" as references to Leonello; suggests that "francisque" refers to Francesco d'Este, who may have owned the portrait, and considers the French motto a later addition.
[Adolfo Venturi]. "Bollettino Bibliografico: Fry (Roger). A Portrait of Leonello d'Este by Roger Van der Weyden . . ." L'arte 14 (1911), pp. 398–99, questions the identification of the portrait as Leonello d'Este, comparing it with other known likenesses of him, including Pisanello's portrait in Bergamo [now Accademia Carrara], and one by Orioli in the National Gallery, London; finds it unlikely that Lionello would be represented with a small hammer as a device; believes the abbreviation on the reverse, "M. E.," would need to be preceded by "L." in order to firmly identify the sitter as Leonello.
Roger E. Fry and Maurice W. Brockwell, ed. A Catalogue of an Exhibition of Old Masters in Aid of the National Art-Collections Fund: Grafton Galleries 1911. Exh. cat.London, 1911, pp. 85–86, no. 90, pl. 68.
Roger Fry. "Exhibition of Old Masters at the Grafton Galleries—II." Burlington Magazine 20 (December 1911), p. 161.
W[oldemar]. v[on]. Seidlitz. "Ausstellungen und Auktionen: Die Grafton-Ausstellung in London." Repertorium für Kunstwissenschaft 35 (1912), p. 86, as not by Rogier, but perhaps a copy after him.
Paul Lafond. Roger van der Weyden. Brussels, 1912, pp. 107–8, ill. opp. p. 12.
Friedrich Winkler. Der Meister von Flémalle und Rogier van der Weyden. Strasbourg, 1913, pp. 120, 169–70.
Max J. Friedländer. Von Eyck bis Bruegel: Studien zur Geschichte der Niederländischen Malerei. Berlin, 1916, pp. 30, 175, as probably painted in Italy in 1450.
"Accessions and Notes." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 11 (October 1916), p. 226, note that the picture has been lent to the Museum by Sir Edgar Speyer.
"Pictures Lent for the Fiftieth Anniversary Exhibition." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 15 (August 1920), p. 186.
Martin Conway. The Van Eycks and Their Followers. London, 1921, p. 143.
Max J. Friedländer. "The Pictures of Rogier van der Weyden in America." Art in America 9 (1921), pp. 62–63, 65, ill., identifies the sitter as Leonello d'Este and notes that the portrait's light background is "quite exceptional".
Willy Burger. Roger van der Weyden. Leipzig, 1923, pp. 51, 70, pl. 45B, dates it about 1450 and considers the hammer a symbol of command.
Friedrich Winkler. Die altniederländische Malerei: Die Malerei in Belgien und Holland von 1400–1600. Berlin, 1924, pp. 85, 87, as painted in Italy.
Max J. Friedländer. Die altniederländische Malerei. Vol. 2, Rogier van der Weyden und der Meister von Flémalle. Berlin, 1924, pp. 20, 99, no. 23, pl. 20, considers the hands unusually weak.
Wilhelm Stein. "Die Bildnisse von Roger van der Weyden." Jahrbuch der Preuszischen Kunstsammlungen 47 (1926), pp. 30–31
, suggests this portrait was painted by Zanetto Bugatto, who worked in Rogier's shop between 1461 and 1463, and that it was commissioned either by Francesco d'Este or Francesco Sforza; describes the hammer as a metalworking tool and mentions a manuscript illumination [Brussels 9242] in which Philip the Good holds a similar attribute.
Ludwig Baldass. "Die Niederländer des 15. und 16. Jahrhunderts auf der Ausstellung flämischer Kunst in London." Belvedere 11 (September 1927), pp. 84–85, dates it about 1450.
Tancred Borenius inCatalogue of the Loan Exhibition of Flemish & Belgian Art: A Memorial Volume. Ed. Martin Conway. Exh. cat., Royal Academy of Arts. London, 1927, pp. 13–14, as painted by Rogier in Italy in 1449–50, but quotes Hulin de Loo's opinion ("H. L.") that it was painted after his return to Brussels from a drawing.
Max J. Friedländer in The Michael Friedsam Collection. [completed 1928], p. 123a, believes the portrait, or at least the drawing for it, dates "towards 1450" when Rogier was in Ferrara.
[Hippolyte] Fierens-Gevaert. Histoire de la peinture flamande des origines à la fin du XVe siècle. Vol. 2, Les continuateurs des Van Eyck. Paris, 1928, p. 54.
Franz Dülberg. Niederländische Malerei der Spätgotik und Renaissance. Potsdam, 1929, p. 57.
Sidney P. Noe. "Flemish Primitives in New York." American Magazine of Art 21 (January 1930), p. 32, as "done while Roger was in Italy".
Arnold Goffin. "À propos du voyage de Roger de le Pasture (Van der Weyden) en Italie." Mélanges Hulin de Loo. Brussels, 1931, pp. 198–200, mentions that a portrait of a woman with a hammer, attributed to Bartolommeo Veneto, is in the Melzi d'Eril collection, Milan.
Bryson Burroughs and Harry B. Wehle. "The Michael Friedsam Collection: Paintings." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 27, section 2 (November 1932), pp. 16–19, ill.
G. Agnelli. Letter to Margaretta Salinger. October 3, 1932, notes that a figure by Francesco del Cossa in Palazzo Schifanoia, Ferrara, displays the same attributes [hammer and ring] and questions the identification of the subject as Leonello d'Este.
Catalogo della esposizione della pittura ferrarese del rinascimento. Exh. cat., Palazzo dei Diamanti. Ferrara, 1933, pp. 26–27, no. 23, ill., identify the sitter as Meliaduse d'Este (1406–1452) [elder half-brother of Leonello] and describe the monogram on the reverse as his; date the portrait 1450, as the sitter holds the hammer of the "Porta Santa" to commemorate the Jubilee.
Adolfo Venturi. "L'esposizione della pittura ferrarese del rinascimento per il centenario ariostesco." L'arte 36 (September 1933), p. 368, fig. 1, identifies the subject as Meliaduse and the hammer as a "ricordo" of the Jubilee.
Maurice W. Brockwell. "The Ferrara Exhibition." Connoisseur 92 (July 1933), p. 35, ill., publishes it as Meliaduse.
Roberto Longhi. Officina ferrarese. Rome, 1934, p. 208, as Meliaduse.
Hans Tietze. Meisterwerke europäischer Malerei in Amerika. Vienna, 1935, p. 333, pl. 126 [English ed., "Masterpieces of European Painting in America," New York, 1939, p. 317, pl. 126], as Meliaduse.
Introduction by Paul Jamot Preface by Paul Lambotte inDe Van Eyck à Bruegel. Exh. cat., Musée de l'Orangerie. [Paris], 1935, pp. 66–67, no. 92, ill., as Meliaduse; suggest the hammer is a later addition.
Leo van Puyvelde. "Les primitifs flamands à l'exposition de Bruxelles." Revue belge d'archéologie et d'histoire de l'art 5 (1935), pp. 312–13, expresses uncertainty about the identification of the subject, maintaining only that the portrait was painted in Ferrara about 1450.
G. J. Hoogewerff. Vlaamsche kunst en Italiaansche Renaissance. Mechelen, [1935?], pp. 30–31, pl. 4, as Meliaduse, the hammer having been presented by the pope in the Jubilee year.
Leo van Puyvelde. "Die Flämische Kunst auf der Ausstellung zu Brüssel." Pantheon 16 (July–December 1935), p. 323, ill. opp. p. 321 [with ring revealed in recent cleaning], dates it about 1450, noting that the sitter is generally identified as Meliaduse d'Este.
A. Van de Put. Letter to Margaretta Salinger. June 1, 1935, notes that the identification of the sitter as Meliaduse first proposed in the Ferrara catalogue (Ref. 1933) is based in part on the belief that the hammer was one of a very few that were included in the ceremony to open the Holy Door during the Jubilee; adds that this catalogue offers no evidence that Meliaduse attended the Jubilee; the emblem "M E," he believes, could just as easily stand for "Marchio Estenses" (which we know was used by Leonello d'Este) as for Meliaduse d'Este.
Adolfo Venturi. Letter to Margaretta Salinger. September 20, 1935, reaffirms his belief that the subject must be Meliaduse, pointing out that he was the first to question Fry's identification [see Ref. 1911]; further notes that the lynx device was favored by members of the family other than Leonello, for example Borso, and that it appears on the facade of the Palazzo Schifanoia; observes that Leonello "could well have been in Rome" for the Jubilee.
D. Roggen. "Lionello of Meliaduse d'Este." Gentsche bijdragen tot de kunstgeschiedenis 3 (1936), pp. 112–14, rejects the suggestion that the hammer can be identified with the hammer of the holy year, which the pope may have offered to Meliaduse; lists representations of Jean sans Peur and Philippe le Bel featuring the (unexplained) hammer as an attribute.
Martin Davies. "National Gallery Notes. III.—Netherlandish Primitives: Rogier van der Weyden and Robert Campin." Burlington Magazine 71 (September 1937), p. 143 n. 2, as a member of the Este family, painted at Ferrara 1449–50.
Alan Burroughs. Art Criticism from a Laboratory. Boston, 1938, p. 218.
Wolfgang Schöne. Dieric Bouts und seine Schule. Berlin, 1938, p. 61, as Meliaduse, probably painted in Italy 1449–50.
E. P. Richardson. "Rogier van der Weyden's Cambrai Altar." Art Quarterly 2 (1939), pp. 62, 65–66 n. 7, ill.
Ernst Kantorowicz. "The Este Portrait by Roger van der Weyden." Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 3 (1939–40), pp. 165–80, ill. (obverse and reverse), identifies the subject as Leonello's illegitimate son Francesco d'Este, who, contrary to contemporary genealogical sources was not born in 1444, but left Ferrara for the Netherlands in that year to be educated in Brussels at the Burgundian court; suggests Francesco would have been at least 15 years old at the time, thus born in or about 1429, and notes that he is last mentioned in 1475; publishes a medallion representing Francesco in profile (pl. 32b, Ms. Vittorio Emmanuele Library, Rome, 293) and comments on similarities to the sitter in this portrait, which he dates about 1460, as Francesco appears to be about thirty years old; states that "the hammer with the long and slender helve was the attribute of certain, probably mlitary or knightly, dignitaries, for only princes and personalities of high rank are represented with these insignia," and that as Francesco was Captain and Governor of Westerloo and Le Quesnoy, he may have held a position entitling him to carry the hammer; also suggests the possibility that the hammer and ring with a ruby may instead allude to a tournament victory as both figure in tournament chronicles; notes that Memling's "Man with an Arrow" (National Gallery of Art, Washington) may represent Francesco at about the age of forty.
F. Winkler inAllgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler. Ed. Hans Vollmer. Vol. 35, Leipzig, 1942, pp. 469, 472, 475, as Meliaduse.
Harry B. Wehle and Margaretta Salinger. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Catalogue of Early Flemish, Dutch and German Paintings. New York, 1947, pp. 35–38, ill., identify the sitter as Francesco d'Este and suggest the portrait was painted in Brussels in 1460.
Leo van Puyvelde. The Flemish Primitives. Brussels, 1948, p. 27, pl. 43, as Leonello.
Theodor Musper. Untersuchungen zu Rogier van der Weyden und Jan van Eyck. Stuttgart, 1948, p. 24, as Leonello or Meliaduse, usually placed about 1450.
Hermann Beenken. Rogier van der Weyden. Munich, 1951, pp. 72–73, 104 n. 54, pl. 113, as Francesco, painted after 1460, perhaps with the assistance of Zanetto Bugatti [sic for Bugatto].
Erwin Panofsky. Early Netherlandish Painting: Its Origins and Character. Cambridge, Mass., 1953, vol. 1, pp. 272–73, 291, 294, 477 n. 5 (to p. 291); vol. 2, fig. 366, as Francesco d'Este, painted in the Netherlands about 1455 or shortly thereafter.
Leo van Puyvelde. La peinture flamande au siècle des van Eyck. Paris, 1953, pp. 144–45, 150, 157, 167, 180, ill., as Leonello, painted in 1450.
"Rogier van der Weyden." Sele arte 2 (January–February 1954), pp. 33, 39, ill.
Ferdinando Bologna. "Un 'San Girolamo' lombardo del Quattrocento." Paragone 5, no. 49 (January 1954), p. 48.
Ruth Massey Tovell. Roger van der Weyden and the Flémalle Enigma. Toronto, 1955, p. 45.
Mario Salmi. Cosmè Tura. [Milan], , p. 14, as Meliaduse.
A. Hyatt Mayor. "The Gifts that Made the Museum." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 16 (November 1957), p. 106, ill. p. 99.
Eberhard Ruhmer. Tura: Paintings and Drawings. New York, 1958, pp. 13, 17, 55 n. 44, observes that in about 1460, just about the time of the creation of this portrait, traces of Netherlandish influence begin to appear in Tura's art.
Erik Larsen. Les primitifs flamands au Musée Metropolitain de New York. Utrecht, 1960, pp. 59–61, 115, fig. 11, believes the hands and hammer could be a later addition.
R. H. Wilenski. Flemish Painters, 1430–1830. New York, 1960, vol. 1, pp. 26–28, 611; vol. 2, pl. 50, as a member of the Este family in the guise of Saint Eligius, painted by the "New York d'Este Painter".
Colin Eisler. "Erik Larsen, Les primitifs flamands au Musée Metropolitain de New York, 1960." Art Bulletin 46 (March 1964), p. 102.
Max J. Friedländer et al. Early Netherlandish Painting. Vol. 2, Rogier van der Weyden and the Master of Flémalle. New York, 1967, pp. 15, 65, 100 n. 32, no. 23, pl. 44, as Leonello, but the editor notes that the subject is now identified as Francesco.
J.-K. Huysmans. Trois primitifs: les Grünewald du musée de Colmar, le Maître de Flémalle et la Florentine du musée de Francfort-sur-le-Main. reprint with added notes [first ed. 1905]. Paris, 1967, p. 167, ill. (obverse and reverse).
Leo van Puyvelde. "La genèse de la forme artistique chez Rogier van der Weyden." Stil und Überlieferung in der Kunst des Abendlandes: Akten des 21. Internationalen Kongresses für Kunstgeschichte in Bonn 1964. Berlin, 1967, vol. 1, pp. 48, 56, as a portrait of Leonello; observes that in accordance with contemporary Italian taste the sitter is represented more in profile than in three-quarter view and that the figure is set off against the ivory background.
Charles D. Cuttler. Northern Painting from Pucelle to Bruegel. New York, 1968, pp. 125–26, ill.
Anne Markham Schulz. "The Columba Altarpiece and Roger van der Weyden's Stylistic Development." Münchner Jahrbuch der Bildenden Kunst, 3rd ser., 22 (1971), p. 109 n. 35.
Martin Davies. Rogier van der Weyden: An Essay, with a Critical Catalogue of Paintings Assigned to Him and to Robert Campin. London, 1972, pp. 25, 229, 244, pls. 111–12 (obverse and reverse), as Francesco, a late work, apparently painted in Flanders; questions Beenken's [Ref. 1951] suggestion that there may be intervention by Zanetto Bugatto; comments on the unusual light background, but refers the reader to Campin's supposed portrait of Robert de Masmines in Berlin [Berlin-Dahlem Museum, which also has a light background].
Lorne Campbell. "Studies in Early Netherlandish Art." Apollo 98 (July 1973), p. 63.
Gustav Künstler. "Vom entstehen des Einzelbildnisses und seiner frühen Entwicklung in der flämischen Malerei." Wiener Jahrbuch für Kunstgeschichte 27 (1974), p. 46, fig. 15.
Josua Bruyn. "The Literature of Art: A New Monograph on Rogier [Review of Martin Davies, Rogier van der Weyden . . ., 1972]." Burlington Magazine 116 (September 1974), p. 541, comments that "whether or not an attribution of the portrait . . . to Zanetto Bugatto makes sense, Rogier's authorship is not quite as obvious as is suggested".
Margaretta Salinger in "The Price Was Not Too High." The Chase, the Capture: Collecting at the Metropolitan. New York, 1975, pp. 195–96, describes the excitement of discovering beneath dark pigment the raised outline of a finger ring, since made visible [during cleaning in 1934].
V. Denis. La peinture flamande 15e–16e–17e siècles. Brussels, 1976, pp. 66, 70.
Lorne Campbell. Letter to Katharine Baetjer. November 3, 1977, calls it "Francesco d'Este" and considers it a very late Rogier from the 1460s; has "notes, but no photos of four (?) 'versions,' probably all fakes": Steinmeyer, Lucerne (photo Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie, Friedländer archives); Gino Calligaris, Venice, 1949 (photo R.K.D., Friedländer archives); private collection, Vicenza (Weltkunst, October 1, 1964); location unknown (R.K.D. neg. L29702).
L. A. J. Armstrong in A. G. Dickens. The Courts of Europe: Politics, Patronage and Royalty 1400–1800. London, 1977, pp. 72, 74, ill., notes that before tournaments, the presiding duke or champion "inspected the shields, crested helmets, and pennons" of the contestants and used a hammer to "knock out disqualified shields . . . and to referee the contest once the fighting had begun"; adds that the hammer was a princely attribute and that this is the reason that Francesco d'Este had "Roger paint him with a toy hammer as a symbol of power".
Rollin van N. Hadley. "What Might Have Been: Pictures Mrs. Gardner Did Not Acquire." Fenway Court (1979), pp. 50–51, no. 67, ill.
Lorne Campbell in "The Portrait Art in the Work of Van der Weyden." Rogier van der Weyden / Rogier de le Pasture: Official Painter to the City of Brussels, Portrait Painter of the Burgundian Court. Exh. cat., Musée de la Ville de Bruxelles, Maison du Roi. Brussels, 1979, pp. 57–59, 62, 154, no. 17, ill. (color) [not in exhibition].
Howard Hibbard. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1980, pp. 188, 192, 199, fig. 362 (color).
John [Rigby] Hale. Letter to Sir John Pope-Hennessy. January 3, 1980, states that the hammer is not a war hammer, but a "carpenter's claw-hammer"; observes that "this could relate it to the drawing of nails from the cross" and that together with the "drop-of-blood ruby" in the ring, Francesco could be holding an emblem of a devotion to the Passion.
Penny Howell Jolly. "Rogier van der Weyden's Escorial and Philadelphia 'Crucifixions' and Their Relation to Fra Angelico at San Marco." Oud-Holland 95, no. 3 (1981), p. 124 n. 16, as apparently commissioned in the North.
Lorne Campbell. Unpublished notes. 1981, comments that all of Rogier's sitters have similar expressions of noble piety, and that their heads have a linear interest which they may never have posessed in nature.
Liana Castelfranchi Vegas. Italie et Flandres dans la peinture du XVe siècle. Milan, 1984, p. 73 no. 27 [Italian ed., 1983].
James Snyder. Northern Renaissance Art: Painting, Sculpture, the Graphic Arts from 1350 to 1575. New York, 1985, pp. 137–38, ill., describes it as a generalized characterization emphasizing the sitter's aristocratic status; dates it about 1455–60.
Guy Bauman. "Early Flemish Portraits, 1425–1525." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 43 (Spring 1986), pp. 38–39, 41–42, ill. in color on front cover and on p. 39 (obverse); ill. in color on back cover and on p. 28 (reverse), dates it about 1460 and calls the hammer a "princely attribute of power connected with the rituals of the tournament" and the ring "possibly a prize".
Walter Prevenier and Wim Blockmans. The Burgundian Netherlands. Cambridge, 1986, p. 323, ill.
Martha Wolff in John Oliver Hand and Martha Wolff. Early Netherlandish Painting [National Gallery of Art]. Washington, 1986, p. 191.
Introduction by James Snyder inThe Metropolitan Museum of Art: The Renaissance in the North. New York, 1987, pp. 10, 25, ill. (color).
Helmut Nickel. "A Heraldic Note about the Portrait of Ladislaus, Count of Haag, by Hans Mielich." Metropolitan Museum Journal 22 (1987), pp. 144–47, ill. (obverse and reverse), discusses the iconography of the Este family and reads the upper inscription as "votre tout," noting that the abbreviation "vre" for "votre" is a common one; suggests that "non plus courcelles" could refer to the town of Corcelles where the sitter may have died in battle.
Rollin van N. Hadley, ed. The Letters of Bernard Berenson and Isabella Stewart Gardner, 1887–1924, with Correspondence by Mary Berenson. 1987, p. 476 n. 1.
Lorne Campbell. Renaissance Portraits. New Haven, 1990, pp. 16, 37, 61, 72, 96, 128–29, 257 n. 31, pl. 154 (obverse), notes that a similar hammer is held by Philip the Good in the presentation miniature of the "Chroniques du Hainaut".
Angelica Dülberg. Privatporträts: Geschichte und Ikonologie einer Gattung im 15. und 16. Jahrhundert. Berlin, 1990, pp. 113, 176, figs. 356–57, ill. (obverse and reverse), believes the inscription "voir" read by Kantorowicz (see Ref. 1939–40) must correspond with the letters "m" and "e," and that with the word "tout" the whole is more likely to represent a single device than the title "Marquis d'Este" and the device "voir tout".
Alfons Lieven Dierick, Hélène Verougstraete-Marcq, and Roger van Schoute. "La lecture des textes." Le dessin sous-jacent dans la peinture. Colloque 8, Louvain, 1991, pp. 182–83, pl. 103b (detail of reverse), states that the "VRE" inscribed on the reverse is a standard written form for "VOSTRE," and that the text, which is not a device but a dedication, can be read as "Vostre tout francisque" or "entirely yours Francesco".
Annarita Mandrioli et al. inLe muse e il principe: arte di corte nel Rinascimento padano. Ed. Alessandra Mottola Molfino and Mauro Natale. Exh. cat., Museo Poldi Pezzoli. Modena, 1991, pp. 22, 54, 68, 73, 314, figs. 16 and 17 (obverse and reverse), accepts a reading of the motto as "VOIR TOVTE" and believes it is meant to stress the princely quality of acumen united with prudence and dissimulation; illustrates in color the profile portrait of Francesco d'Este in the Genealogia dei principi d'Este (fig. 26).
Andrea Bacchi. Francesco del Cossa. Soncino, 1991, p. 44, mentions it in relation to Cossa's portrait of an unidentified man holding a ring [Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid], which may similarly be identifiable as a prize.
Colnaghi in America: A Survey to Commemorate the First Decade of Colnaghi New York. Ed. Nicholas H. J. Hall. New York, 1992, pp. 25, 131, ill.
Shirley Neilsen Blum, Selected by Guy C. Bauman, and Walter A. Liedtke inFlemish Paintings in America: A Survey of Early Netherlandish and Flemish Paintings in the Public Collections of North America. Antwerp, 1992, pp. 24, 40–42, no. 4, ill. in color (obverse and reverse), compares it to Leonardo da Vinci's portrait of Ginevra da Binci [National Gallery, Washington], also painted on its reverse, in which, similarly, "a noble lineage mixes with an unmistakably grave, almost melancholic humor".
Hans Belting and Christiane Kruse. Die Erfindung des Gemäldes: Das erste Jahrhundert der niederländischen Malerei. Munich, 1994, pp. 48, 193, no. 121, ill. p. 47 (obverse and reverse) and colorpl. 121.
Dirk De Vos. Hans Memling: The Complete Works. Ghent, 1994, p. 366, ill., compares Memling's process of "framing" his portrait subjects to that of Rogier van der Weyden.
Lorne Campbell inThe Dictionary of Art. Ed. Jane Turner. New York, 1996, p. 123.
Otto Pächt. Early Netherlandish Painting from Rogier van der Weyden to Gerard David. Ed. Monika Rosenauer. London, 1997, pp. 71–72, ill., comments on the "homogeneity of line" in the face and hands of this portrait, "the same springing, flexible curves, whether in the aquiline nose or the crooked little finger".
Michael Kimmelman. "At the Met with Chuck Close: Sought or Imposed, Limits Can Take Flight." New York Times (July 25, 1997), p. C23, ill.
Roberta Iotti et al. Gli Estensi. Ed. Roberta Iotti. Exh. cat., Biblioteca Estense Universitaria di Modena. Modena, 1997, vol. 1 (La Corte di Ferrara), pp. 8, 157–58, 194, ill. (color, obverse and reverse).
Mary Sprinson de Jesús inFrom Van Eyck to Bruegel: Early Netherlandish Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ed. Maryan W. Ainsworth and Keith Christiansen. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1998, pp. vii, 24, 40, 60 n. 6, pp. 69, 74, 140–41, 154–55, 160, 163, no. 23, ill. (color, obverse and reverse).
John Oliver Hand. "New York. From Van Eyck to Bruegel: Early Netherlandish Painting in The Metropolitan Museum of Art." Burlington Magazine 140 (December 1998), p. 855.
Catherine A. Metzger and Michael Palmer. "The Washington 'Portrait of a Lady' by Rogier van der Weyden Reconsidered in Light of Recent Investigations." Painting Techniques, History, Materials and Studio Practice: Contributions to the Dublin Congress, 7–11 September 1998. Ed. Ashok Roy and Perry Smith. London, 1998, p. 94 n. 1.
Michael Kimmelman. Portraits: Talking with Artists at the Met, the Modern, the Louvre and Elsewhere. New York, 1998, pp. 240–41, ill. [text similar to Kimmelman 1997].
Stephan Kemperdick. Rogier van der Weyden 1399/1400–1464. Cologne, 1999, pp. 102–03, 105, ill. (color), observes that Francesco's expression "makes him appear a man of great refinement, almost a sufferer from ennuie".
Dirk De Vos. Rogier van der Weyden: The Complete Works. New York, 1999, pp. 112, 302–4, ill. (color, obverse and reverse), dates it about 1455–60 and observes that if we understand the inscription "vre tout" to be a dedication, that is, "vostre tout," we must conclude that the portrait was conceived as a gift to Francesco's father, Leonello, who died in 1450; notes, however, that Francesco's hair is not cut around the ear, which was "compulsary" at the Burgundian court about 1450, and that the style of the portrait is too mannered for the 1440s; finds the quality of this picture "clearly inferior" to Rogier's other portraits, although "the lack of plasticity and definition in the features could be the result of relatively heavy wear"; considers the painting on the reverse "plainly by a different artist," and comments on the mediocre quality of the helmet.
Albert Châtelet. Rogier van der Weyden: Problèmes de la vie et de l'oeuvre. Strasbourg, 1999, pp. 201–2, reads the inscription as "V[ost]RE TOUT," to be read with "Francisque," and thus a dedication to a second party.
Elisabeth Dhanens and Jellie Dijkstra. Rogier de le Pasture van der Weyden: Introduction à l'oeuvre, relecture des sources. Tournai, 1999, pp. 49, 51–52, 144, ill. (color, obverse and reverse), believe this work best illustrates the art of Rogier's portraiture.
Rona Goffen in "Crossing the Alps: Portraiture in Renaissance Venice." Renaissance Venice and the North: Crosscurrents in the Time of Bellini, Dürer and Titian. Ed. Bernard Aikema and Beverly Louise Brown. Exh. cat., Palazzo Grassi. Milan, 1999, p. 127, ill.
Arlette Smolar Meynart. "Relazioni politiche ed artistiche tra la corte di Borgogna a Bruxelles e la corte estense a Ferrara nel XV secolo." Musei Ferraresi 18 (1999), pp. 56–59, ill. (obverse), suggests that the hammer, ring, white background, and the impresa on the reverse that remain somewhat mysterious, are elements of the kind of wordplay or rebus that was so popular at the time.
Reinhard Liess. Zum Logos der Kunst Rogier van der Weydens: Die 'Beweinungen Christi' in den Königlichen Museen in Brüssel und in der Nationalgalerie in London. Münster, 2000, vol. 2, pp. 644, 709.
Philippe Lorentz and Micheline Comblen-Sonkes. Musée du Louvre, Paris. III [Les primitifs flamandes, I: Corpus de la peinture des anciens Pays-Bas méridionaux et de la principauté de Liège au quinzième siècle, vol. 19]. Brussels, 2001, text vol., p. 187.
Stephen J. Campbell. Cosmè Tura: Painting and Design in Renaissance Ferrara. Ed. Alan Chong. Exh. cat., Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Boston, 2002, pp. 75–76, ill.
Lorne Campbell in Stephen J. Campbell. Cosmè Tura: Painting and Design in Renaissance Ferrara. Ed. Alan Chong. Exh. cat., Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Milan, 2002, pp. 75–76, ill.
Mauro Lucco in Till-Holger Borchert. "Burgundian Art for Italian Courts." The Age of Van Eyck: The Mediterranean World and Early Netherlandish Painting 1430–1530. Exh. cat., Groeningen Museum, Bruges. Ghent, 2002, p. 110, ill. (color).
Oliver Bradbury and Nicholas Penny. "The Picture Collecting of Lord Northwick: Part I." Burlington Magazine 144 (August 2002), p. 491, mention as an example of Lord Northwick's early interest in fifteenth-century painting "A very ancient small portrait on panel, on the reverse are the Arms of France, quartered with the Eagle of the Este family . . ." [presumably the present portrait].
Lorne Campbell. "Letters: Lord Northwick's Collection and Rogier van der Weyden's Portrait of Francesco d'Este." Burlington Magazine 144 (November 2002), p. 696, ill. (reverse), notes that our portrait corresponds in description to the work mentioned in Lord Northwick's 1823 sale at Harrow Villa, no. 16, mentioned in Ref. Bradbury and Penny 2002; concludes that if the Northwick picture is not identical with the New York portrait of Francesco d'Este, it must have been a portrait of Niccolo d'Este, his son Leonello d'Este or one of their immediate family, since it was Niccolo who in 1432 received from Charles VII of France the privilege of quartering the arms of France; observes that Leonello's successors, Borso d'Este in 1452 and Ercole d'Este in 1474 added more quarterings.
Paula Nuttall. From Flanders to Florence: The Impact of Netherlandish Painting, 1400–1500. New Haven, 2004, pp. 214–15, 265 n. 16, pl. 232.
Lorne Campbell. Van der Weyden. London, 2004, pp. 114–15, nos. 78 and 79, ill. (obverse and reverse).
Maryan W. Ainsworth inMemling's Portraits. Ed. Till-Holger Borchert. Exh. cat., Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid. Ghent, 2005, p. 99.
Till-Holger Borchert. "Collecting Early Netherlandish Paintings in Europe and the United States." Early Netherlandish Paintings: Rediscovery, Reception and Research. Ed. Bernhard Ridderbos et al. English ed. Amsterdam, 2005, p. 215 [Dutch ed., "'Om iets te weten van de oude meesters'. De Vlaamse Primitieven—herontdekking, waardering en onderzoek," Nijmegen, 1995].
Marcello Toffanello inCosmè Tura e Francesco del Cossa: l'arte a Ferrara nell'età di Borso d'Este. Ed. Mauro Natale. Exh. cat., Palazzo dei Diamanti and Palazzo Schifanoia. Ferrara, 2007, p. 412.
Mauro Natale and Giovanni Sassu inCosmè Tura e Francesco del Cossa: l'arte a Ferrara nell'età di Borso d'Este. Ed. Mauro Natale. Exh. cat., Palazzo dei Diamanti and Palazzo Schifanoia. Ferrara, 2007, p. 43.
Cecilia Cavalca inCosmè Tura e Francesco del Cossa: l'arte a Ferrara nell'età di Borso d'Este. Ed. Mauro Natale. Exh. cat., Palazzo dei Diamanti and Palazzo Schifanoia. Ferrara, 2007, p. 412, mentions it in relation to Francesco del Cossa's portrait of a man from about 1472–73 (Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid) in which the sitter also holds a ring.
Catherine A. Metzger and Michael Palmer. "The Creative Process in Rogier van der Weyden's Portraits." Invention: Northern Renaissance Studies in Honor of Molly Faries. Ed. Julien Chapuis. Turnhout, Belgium, 2008, pp. 72, 75–76, 84 n. 2, p. 85 n.27, figs. 6, 15 (overall and infrared reflectogram detail), note that placement lines have recently been discovered in four of Rogier's portraits, including the present work; discuss the painting's technique and note that changes made to Francesco's hands "suggest that the painting was initially a donor's portrait; the lines revealed with infrared reflectography seem to depict the hands folded in prayer".
Everett Fahy inArt and Love in Renaissance Italy. Ed. Andrea Bayer. Exh. cat., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2008, pp. 18, 26 n. 4.
Stephan Kemperdick inThe Master of Flémalle and Rogier van der Weyden. Ed. Stephan Kemperdick and Jochen Sander. Exh. cat., Städel Museum, Frankfurt. Ostfildern, 2009, p. 265 [German ed., "Der Meister von Flémalle und Rogier van der Weyden," Ostfildern, 2008].
Andrea Bayer, Keith Christiansen, and Stefan Weppelmann inThe Renaissance Portrait from Donatello to Bellini. Ed. Keith Christiansen and Stefan Weppelmann. Exh. cat., Bode-Museum, Berlin. New York, 2011, p. ix [German ed., "Gesichter der Renaissance: Meisterwerke italienischer Portrait-Kunst," Berlin, 2011].
Keith Christiansen inThe Renaissance Portrait from Donatello to Bellini. Ed. Keith Christiansen and Stefan Weppelmann. Exh. cat., Bode-Museum, Berlin. New York, 2011, pp. 208–10, 212, 290, no. 71, ill. (color) [German ed., "Gesichter der Renaissance: Meisterwerke italienischer Portrait-Kunst," Berlin, 2011].
Beverly Louise Brown inThe Renaissance Portrait from Donatello to Bellini. Ed. Keith Christiansen and Stefan Weppelmann. Exh. cat., Bode-Museum, Berlin. New York, 2011, p. 39 [German ed., "Gesichter der Renaissance: Meisterwerke italienischer Portrait-Kunst," Berlin, 2011].
Sabine Hoffmann inThe Renaissance Portrait from Donatello to Bellini. Ed. Keith Christiansen and Stefan Weppelmann. Exh. cat., Bode-Museum, Berlin. New York, 2011, p. 275 [German ed., "Gesichter der Renaissance: Meisterwerke italienischer Portrait-Kunst," Berlin, 2011, p. 276].
Stephan Kemperdick inThe Renaissance Portrait from Donatello to Bellini. Ed. Keith Christiansen and Stefan Weppelmann. Exh. cat., Bode-Museum, Berlin. New York, 2011, p. 333 [German ed., "Gesichter der Renaissance: Meisterwerke italienischer Portrait-Kunst," Berlin, 2011].
Andrea Bayer. "Collecting North Italian Paintings at The Metropolitan Museum of Art." A Market for Merchant Princes: Collecting Italian Renaissance Paintings in America. Ed. Inge Reist. University Park, Pa., 2015, p. 94.
Colnaghi, Past, Present and Future: An Anthology. Ed. Tim Warner-Johnson and Jeremy Howard. London, 2016, pp. 52–53, colorpl. 3.
Kathryn Calley Galitz. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Masterpiece Paintings. New York, 2016, pp. 266, 268, no. 144, ill. pp. 152, 268 (color).
A 1934 cleaning revealed a ring, which had been painted out, held in the right hand of the sitter.