All is not fun and games: conversation, play, and surveillance at the Montefeltro court in Urbino


  • I would like to thank the peer-reviewers as well as Jennifer Bird, David Cast, Geoffrey Compton, Kristen Hylenski, and Robyn Roslak for reading drafts of this article and for offering advice.


Works of art and literature commissioned for the Montefeltro court in Urbino and executed by Joos Van Gent, Pedro Berruguete, Baldassare Castiglione and Martino Filetico, use conversation, play, and wit to commemorate humanist interests and court practice. While these and other works celebrate Federico da Montefeltro's court, the illusionism of the intarsia panels in his studiolo do more than amuse. The objects and the uomini illustri portraits that fill the studiolo tease the visitor to the space and point to systems of surveillance and judgment as familiar to the Renaissance courtier as they were to the prisoner in the panopticon.