Architecture, gender and politics: the Villa Imperiale at Pesaro

King, Catherine (2006). Architecture, gender and politics: the Villa Imperiale at Pesaro. Art History, 29(5) pp. 796–826.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8365.2006.00524.x

Abstract

Factors addressed by art historians in interpreting and explaining the unconventional design of the new Villa Imperiale at Pesaro by Girolamo Genga (c1529-38) have included functional questions of topography and aspect, the court year, court ceremonies and theatre, and its relation to the older villa beside it, as well as stylistic explanations associated with 'Mannerism.' However the new villa was inscribed on its façade as having been built by Leonora Gonzaga Duchess of Urbino for her husband Duke Francesco Maria I. This essay discusses gender decorum to understand more about the interplay of factors underlying the choice of its peculiar design. The evidence of contemporary texts addressing the proper feminine appearance and behaviour of the Duchess and other noblewomen is considered in relation to the unusually enclosed and private themes characterising the plan and elevation of this villa.

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