the nose


Federico da Montefeltro has one of the most memorable noses in Western art. Thanks to the Renaissance master Piero della Francesca, whose portrait of Federico is a prize of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, the abrupt crook of the duke’s profile is a staple of art-history texts the world over. Only the disfigured nose of the grandfather in Ghirlandaio’s Old Man with a Young Boy (ca. 1490) and, perhaps, Rembrandt’s tuberous proboscis can vie with that of Federico.

A different side view of the duke can be seen in Federico da Montefeltro and His Library, an exhibition at the Morgan Library and Museum. Double Portrait of Federico da Montefeltro and His Son Guidobaldo (ca. 1475) is the show’s centerpiece. There’s still no definitive attribution for the painting, but whoever created the picture did justice to the nobleman’s nose, making it part and parcel of Federico’s regal bearing. Sitting upright in his armor, he reads a tome by Pope Gregory and wears an expression that is equal parts erudition, refinement and arrogant power. The painting may be adulatory, but it does expose the conscious contrivance behind Federico’s image.

more from the NY Observer here.