Gallery 501 - The Studiolo from the Ducal Palace at Gubbio,
Part of European Sculpture and Decorative Arts
View a Collection on the Map
View a Special Exhibition on the Map
View Facilities on the Map
The walls of this studiolo, or study room, are decorated with images made using wood inlay, or intarsia. This demanding and expensive technique involves cutting grained woods of different colors into thin pieces, or veneers, shaped according to the desired design and laid into a matrix. Optical illusions abound, such as the cabinet doors that appear to be ajar and the shadows seemingly cast by the legs of the benches. The decorative program of the studiolo reflects the personality of its powerful patron, Federico da Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino (1422–1482), whose interests included mathematics, music, and literature. His emblems, such as the ermine (a small animal symbolizing purity) and the ostrich with a spearhead in its beak (representing victory in the face of adversity), are incorporated in the decoration. Studioli became an increasingly important feature of Italian Renaissance palaces, providing their owners with an intimate retreat where they could engage in learned pursuits, keep their precious collections, and entertain important visitors.