The d'Este were the ruling family of the city of Ferrara in North Italy during the 15th and 16th centuries. Their court in the city was one of great cultural sophistication. A number of works now in the Collection were painted for members of the d'Este family.
One of its most notable artistic patrons, Alfonso I, commissioned Titian's 'Bacchus and Ariadne'. His sister, Isabella d'Este, had married into the Gonzaga family at Mantua, and employed, among others, Andrea Mantegna.