Duke Francesco I d'Este

The exhibition is organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art in collaboration with the Soprintendenza per i Beni Storici, Artistici ed Etnoantropologici di Modena e Reggio Emilia and the Galleria Estense.

Support is provided by the Consulate General of Italy in New York and Ferrero USA Inc. as part of the 2013 Year of Italian Culture in the United States, an initiative held under the auspices of the President of the Italian Republic, organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Embassy of Italy in Washington with the support of the Corporate Ambassadors Eni and Intesa Sanpaolo.

Featured Media

The Artistic Heritage of Modena: At the Origin of the Galleria Estense

Program information

Davide Gasparotto, Director, Galleria Estense, Modena, tells the story of Duke Francesco I d'Este and his family. A powerful family from Northern Italy who moved their seat of power to Modena, they were well-known art patrons whose collection formed the foundation of the Galleria Estense in Modena, Italy.

Recorded April 20, 2013

This program was part of the lecture series The Artistic Heritage of Modena, Italy: From the Court of Francesco I d'Este to the 2012 Earthquake, presented in conjunction with the exhibition Velázquez's Portrait of Duke Francesco I d'Este: A Masterpiece from the Galleria Estense, Modena, on view April 16–July 14, 2013.

Velázquez's Portrait of Duke Francesco I d'Este

A Masterpiece from the Galleria Estense, Modena

April 16–July 14, 2013

Among the most distinctive portraits by Diego Velázquez is one he painted of Francesco I d'Este (1610–58), the Duke of Modena, during the duke's visit to Madrid in 1638 to secure the support of Philip IV. The duke is shown in armor, wearing a red sash, his head turned toward the viewer. It is a work that conveys a quality of arrogance and sensuality, and is a high watermark in the history of baroque portraiture, while also illustrating the importance of Velázquez's portraits to Spanish diplomacy. In 1843 the painting was acquired by the Galleria Estense—one of the most prestigious of Italy's regional museums—in Modena, Italy, and it has never before been lent to an institution in the United States. This special, three-month loan coincides with the re-installation of the Metropolitan's collection of Old Master paintings. It not only makes accessible to an American public one of the least known of Velázquez's works, but also calls attention to the severe damage suffered throughout the Italian region of Emilia Romagna after a devastating earthquake in May 2012. The Galleria Estense has been temporarily closed due to the damage it sustained.

Image: Velázquez (Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez) (Spanish, 1599–1660). Duke Francesco I d'Este, 1638. Oil on canvas. Galleria Estense, Modena © su concessione del Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali