Lecture: Italy Renaissance: Studiolos: Narrator: Listen to part of a lecture in a Renaissance art history class. Professor: Ok, today we're going to continue with our discussion of palaces in during the Italian Renaissance. We've been looking the palaces constructed between 1300 and 1550. What do you remember about these palaces from the last class? Yes, Rebecca. Rebecca: They were built ... um ... primarily for duke. Professor: and duke is ... Rebecca: A duke was basically a noble man, a person who ruled over a certain city or territory. Professor: Okay, go ahead. Rebecca: So the palaces were the duke's home. But they were also the place where regional government was centered. Professor: So you're saying they have like a dual purpose? Rebecca: Yes. Professor: That's right. Now interestingly, just as palaces, as a whole, had a dual purpose. So did one of the rooms typically found in a palace, a room called a studiolos. The studiolos was primarily built for contemplation and studying. However it also serves a second purpose – self-promotion. It was designed to draw attention to the duke's wealth and sophistication. It was exquisitely crafted at great expense to create a lasting impression. Rebecca: What exactly do you mean by CRACKED it to create an impression? Professor: Well, take for example, the studiolos of duke Federico da Montefeltro. Duke Federico ruled a small but wealthy city in central Italy, and as was common in studiolos, huge sections of the walls in his studiolos were decorated with a technique known as intarsia. Intarsia is an artistic technique that involves fitting together thousands of very small pieces of wood to create a picture. The pieces are a variety of shades of brown, partly because they are made of various kinds of wood, and also because some of them are died and these little pieces fit together, kind of like a jigsaw puzzle. The image that's created ends up looking like a painting except made of wood. If you're like most people, you've probably never heard of the intarsia technique which is unfortunate, because the intarsia masters of the Renaissance created some truly exquisite works of art. Um. Anyway, as I said, the images created with the technique were often of objects that symbolize the duke's sophistication and taste, exquisite objects like musical instruments, rare books, precious stones, ancient Roman artifacts, scientific instruments. And there were sometimes also images created using this technique that symbolize the duke's character or accomplishments. For example, on the cabinet door from Duke Federico's studiolos, there is an image of a squirrel and a basket of fruit. The squirrel was often used in the Renaissance to represent a commitment to hard work, probably because squirrel works so diligently for so long to store up food for the winter and a bountiful fruit basket would have been understood as a symbol of abundance. Therefore these elements function to symbolize the duke's willingness to work for his people and his ability to provide for them. Ok. Now even though all of this was intentionally created for purposes of display, the studiolos was actually a private room, part of the residential portion of the palace. And that could be an important part of business for the duke. See people with access to the room would have been restricted chosen to his closest advisors and visiting dignitaries of those, they're on government or official business whom the duke chose to invite in. So being allowed in was special, a sign that you were part of the duke's inner circle. I mean that's very flattering and that could work in to do favor if he were trying to, you know, hammer out a publishable compromise or some business transaction.