Date of Award

Spring 4-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Art History

First Advisor

James Hutson

Second Advisor

Alexis Culotta

Third Advisor

Steven J. Cody


This thesis is based on how Isabella d'Este (1474-1539) cultivated her extensive collection of rare antiques and art, given the parallel evolution of her art commissions and political concerns as it pertains to iconography and feminism. Instead of discussing what previous scholars have researched concerning Isabella d’Este, this thesis will incorporate the iconography as it pertains to her commissions in a historiographical sense, as well as argue why this iconography would eventually become a beacon for feminist discussion. This will primarily examine Isabella’s commissions from 1494 to 1507, including her earliest portraits and the first four paintings of her studiolo. This will include background of iconographic theory alongside how Isabella wanted herself depicted as a powerful court lady of Mantua from a feminist standpoint.