Francesco di Giorgio Martini - Ideal City

by Alexandra Tuschka


What we see here is not a real city view. The very name of the work reveals that we are dealing here with a fantasy - with an ideal city that meets the aesthetic and intellectual demands of the Platonic ideal. No green space breaks the structure of the streets. Originally, the ideal city was depicted on three panels. However, these are now in various museums - in Berlin, Urbino and Baltimore.

The main work is characterized by the central rotunda. This has a public character and may have been used as a place of worship. However, the circular temple was also used for research purposes in the Middle Ages. A clearly religious building is in the background: offset to the right, the facade of a church still protrudes into the picture, interrupting the well-structured urban buildings. The marble paving on the ground creates depth space as it runs towards the central vanishing point. Two octagonal fountains rhythmize the pictorial space.


The authorship of the well-known work has not been clearly established to date. The work was created in the last two decades of the 15th century at the court of Urbino. Federico da Montefeltro, who ruled between 1444 and 1482, strongly promoted the intellectual and artistic current, so that several artists come into question. Today, one mostly agrees on Francesco di Giorgio Martini.

These three works are the first known urban fantasies in art. It is a characteristic result of the intellectual and artistic debate at the Urbino court.


Francesco di Giorgio Martini - Ideal City

Oil on canvas, c. 1480, 67.5 x 239.5 cm, Galleria Nazionale delle Marche in Urbino