chapter  4
25 Pages

Visual Splendour at the Court of Vittoria della Rovere

The Role of Portraiture
WithAdelina Modesti

Portraiture and how it functioned at Vittoria’s court as a marker of princely, but also personal, identity is the subject of this chapter. Portraiture and its display were a major means of elite self-fashioning, and the Medici were master manipulators of their public image. Vittoria della Rovere understood very well the power that portraiture could project, as she is probably the most represented of the Medici on canvas. Portraits were also exchanged as gifts between dynastic women, especially by relatives who had married into foreign courts, and perhaps never saw their natal families again. They enabled these women to have a surrogate of their family in their own courts. Portraits, and even portraitists, exchanged with foreign courts further acted as visual kinship unifiers, enabling a specific Medicean dynastic identity to collectively permeate throughout Europe.