Portraits were extremely popular during the Renaissance, from full-length figures on canvas to miniature reliefs on medallions. The portrait served many functions - one of the principal tasks being to record and transmit the images of rulers and their power.
A ruler of a particularly cultivated court at Urbino in Umbria, Federico de Montefeltro was one of the great generals of his day and an enlightened patron of the arts. The face of Federico - with its nose damaged in a joust, thin lips, and protruding jaw - is especially candid. Here, devoid of any hint of spirituality or religious association, is the self-reliant ruler firmly in charge of his destiny.