The d'Este were the ruling family of the city of Ferrara and Lionello d'Este (1407 - 1450) was Marquis of Ferrara from 1441 until his death.

Small painted portraits were often sent as diplomatic presents from one court to another in the 15th century, as were medallic portraits which were a new type of miniature sculpture inspired by Roman coins. Like other Italian portraits of the mid-15th century, this picture resembles a medal through its profile format and its prominent Latin inscription.

It is possible that the picture, which is Giovanni da Oriolo's only signed work, was the subject of a recorded payment of 21 June 1447.

Key facts

Artist
Artist dates
active 1439; died by 1474
Full title
Leonello d'Este
Date made
probably about 1447
Medium and support
Egg tempera on wood
Dimensions
57.6 x 39.5 cm
Inscription summary
Signed; Inscribed
Acquisition credit
Bought, 1867
Inventory number
NG770
Location in Gallery