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La berretta del condottiero. Alle origini di un’iconografia quattrocentesca

 

Fabrizio Ansani, Jan Verheyen

 

In the Double portrait of the dukes of Urbino, Piero della Francesca immortalized the profile of one of the most celebrated mercenary captains of his time. In the Portrait of a woman with a man at a casement, Fra Filippo Lippi depicted the countenance of a rich, powerful magnate. Apparently, only a single pictorial element related these portraits and these individuals, that is, the red beret of condottieri. Through visual and written sources, this article reconstructs the origin and the circulation of this eccentric garment in Renaissance Italy, an important mark in the iconography of local men-at-arms. Stressing its value to military nobility, the hat offers the possibility to advance a new, different interpretation on several contemporary portraits, including Lippi’s masterpiece, which represents the significant case-study of this paper.