The Montefeltro and the Islamic Orient. Urbino, 1430-1550. The Ducal Palace between West and East

Elisabetta Raffo's picture
June 23, 2018 to September 30, 2018
Subject Fields: 
Architecture and Architectural History, Islamic History / Studies, Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Italian History / Studies, Fine Arts


The Montefeltro and the Islamic Orient. Why? The Orient enters the extraordinary Palace of Federico da Montefeltro in Urbino by means of a selection of primarily Islamic masterpieces.  The idea might seem unusual, but really it is not, if it is seen in the context of a very troubled historical era, peaking in 1453 with the fall of Constantinople.  For this is the culmination of the period when East and West met and clashed most drastically.  But it is also the period when cultural exchange between East and West intensified, trade and ITS resulting relationships developed, and patronage of the arts expanded. Great works of art, today preserved in museums and collections all over the world, were commissioned to an ever-greater degree, to decorate the palatial buildings of the princes of Europe.  One focus of “The Montefeltro and the Islamic Orient” is to recreate the furnishings of the extraordinary age of Federico da Montefeltro and of the first Della Rovere dukes. The exhibition takes place in three areas of the palace: the exhibitions area, the library, and the throne room.


A varied selection of Oriental objects from the East, alongside artifacts made in the West, testifies to the cultural and commercial exchanges between these two worlds:  ceramics, metalworks, textiles and carpets.  These latter are presented in three separate sections: Carpets of the Painters, Domaschini, and Mamluk, according to their patterns, decoration, and origin.  Accompanying them are remarkable examples of precious metal objects produced in the Islamic world that have aroused the admiration of the West since the Middle Ages.  There are also oriental ceramics, playing a key role in the transformation of European ceramic works; and sumptuous textiles, among which the valuable silk velvets from Florence and Venice were particularly admired by the Ottoman Court.


The charming barrel-vaulted room, dominated by the large Montefeltro Eagle, returns to its original function hosting, however, Persian manuscripts and paintings, primarily from the fifteenth century. These beautiful arts of the book were made in the princely courts of the East and they narrate, and illustrate, some of the most famous stories of Persian literature, as they also recount its history and counsel its rulers.  Such books of poetry and history unite Oriental princes and the great Renaissance lords, in their love of learning and their taste for beauty.


In this room are presented large court carpets that came from the East during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries:  valuable purchases, diplomatic gifts, spoils of war, or even direct commissions from western courts. Of special interest is the huge tapestry woven with scenes from the Story of the Trojan War.  It is one of a famous series (consisting of eleven tapestries), made for several Renaissance courts, including one set commissioned by Federico da Montefeltro in 1476, for the Ducal Palace in Urbino.

Contact Info: 

Galleria Nazionale delle Marche
Palazzo Ducale di Urbino
Piazza Rinascimento 13, 61029 Urbino (PU) - Italy
Telefono: (+39) 0722 2760

OPENING TIMES Tuesday-Sunday: from 8.30 am to 7.15 pm (ticket office closes at 6.15 pm) Monday: from 8.30 am to 2.00 pm (ticket office closes at 1.00 pm) Special openings: monday from 8.30 am to 7.15 pm (from 30 july to 3 september); thursday from 8.30 am to 10.20 pm (from 21 june to 30 august)