Exhibition Tour at the Italian Cultural Institute in Tokyo

Saturday, March 29th, 2008
Theme: Federico da Montefeltro e lo
Studiolo di Gubbio

A visit to the small study of Duke Federico da Montefeltro
Humanism and Renaissance art of central Italy

During 5 years the best artisans of the region have faithfully reproduced the beautiful studiolo in wood with trompe-l'oeil effects. Now this masterpiece has come to Japan under the sponsorship of the Italian Embassy.

On the first day, MG School organized a guided tour with 8 students.


Federico da Montefeltro e lo Studiolo di Gubbio

This studiolo, or study, is one of the most important works of art of the Italian Renaissance. It was commissioned around 1476 by Federico da Montefeltro (1422 1482), duke of Urbino, for his residence in the small city of Gubbio, north of Perugia in the foothills of the Appenine mountains in Italy. The studiolo was intended to provide a place for intellectual pursuits, examining confidential papers or private possessions, or receiving special visitors. The walls of the small room are carried out in wood inlay. Thousands of tiny pieces of different kinds of wood have been used to create the illusion of walls lined with cupboards. Their lattice doors are open, revealing a dazzling array of the accoutrements of the duke's life. Armor and insignia refer to his prowess as a warrior and wise governor; musical and scientific instruments and books attest to his love of learning.


Bird cage

The coat of arms of the Duke

Globe, brush and books

<Left: a mandolien, ruler and compass, books and candle stand>
<Center: dagger, drum and books>
<Right: Helmet with crest, part of an armour>

The technique that is employed here is intarsia, the Italian word for wood inlay. This technique was used to create intricate pictorial images like these set into paneling, doors, or furniture. Everything in the studiolo looks three-dimensional, as if intended to fool us into thinking these objects are real. This device is called trompe l'oeil (French for "fool the eye"). The designer of the studiolo enhanced this illusion of three-dimensionality by using a system of linear perspective that had only recently been formulated by the great Renaissance architect Filippo Brunelleschi.

After viewing the exhibit, Mrs. Etsuko Donati kindly invited the group to enjoy the cherry blossoms from the 12th floor veranda while sipping a delicious home-made Italian expresso with chocolates.

Later Mr. Umberto Donati, Director of the Institute, led the group the in-house theater where all the members were treated to an opera performance by Tenor Fabio Andreotti and Sporano Konomi Suzuki.

Thank you for a beautiful and enriching experience!