The-Duke-of-Urbino-Piero-della-Francesca

Country Life Magazine: My Favourite Painting

7

Country Life Magazine asked Robert to talk about his favourite painting.

‘Historians suggest that Federico is always painted from the left side because of disfigurement after losing his right eye in combat.  The missing bridge of his nose is mysterious – after the injury, did he have the bridge removed surgically, to retain peripheral vision from his left eye for combat? The puzzling kyphosis, the humpback deformity depicted in various portraits, is hardly ever mentioned. Dr Antoni, the New York osteologist, argues this resulted from the weight of his armour. I am grateful to Karen Watts at the Royal Armouries museum who says his chest armour would have weighed around 26kgs; his helmet perhaps 1kg. Quite heavy – but 15th Century armour was carefully fitted being supported most evenly around the body.  And painted from the left? Some neuroscientists opine that left dominant portraits are often of individuals unconsciously wishing to show their sensitive side (controlled by the right cranial hemisphere).  Perhaps Montefeltro was a bruiser, but he ensured that Urbino be noted for courtesy, refined manners and its civilisation.’

About the author / 

Helen Drummond