Palazzo dei Diamanti

Palazzo dei Diamanti is a palace located on Corso Ercole I d'Este 21 in Ferrara, northern Italy. It is one of the most famous palaces in Italy, as well one of the most influential examples of European Renaissance architecture.


Designed by Biagio Rossetti upon commission by Sigismondo d'Este, brother of Duke Ercole I, in 1492, it was built between 1493 and 1503. Used as a residential home by the Este and then, starting in 1641, by the Villa marquees, in 1832 the palace was acquired by the municipal in order to house the National Gallery of Art and the Civic University.


The most striking feature is the bugnato of the exterior walls: it consists of some 8,500 white (with pink veins) marble blocks carved to represent diamonds, hence its name. The positioning of the diamonds varies in order to maximize the light reflected off the building, creating quite the visual effect. The palace is also well known for its candelabras and the phytomorphic corner motifs. Inside, it has a typical Renaissance courtyard with a cloister and a marble well; the latter is a particular characteristic typical of gardens in Ferrara.

The National Gallery of Art in Ferrara

The main floor of the Palace houses the National Art Gallery of Ferrara, with paintings from the Ferrara school from the Middle Ages up to the 18th century. The oldest paintings are large frescoes (Triumph of sant'Agostino by Serafino da Modena) and wooden panels with gold-leaf backgrounds, such as the Madonna and Child by Gentile da Fabriano. The main artists from the 15th century are Cosmè Tura (Giudizio and the Martyrdom of san Maurelio), Ercole de' Roberti, Vicino da Ferrara and Michele Pannonio, who each have several works here. From the Este family collections, there are works by various artists, one of whom is Andrea Mantegna (Cristo con l'animula della Madonna). There are also two works by unidentified artists from the collection of the Marquee Leonello d'Este at the Belfiore Palace. The 16th century is represented by the master of classicism Garofalo; there are many works here by this artist, one of the most noteworthy being Pala Costabili, done in collaboration with Dosso Dossi. The period of mannerism is represented by Bastianino, who uses a technique similar to that of Michelangelo in his works. Other artists present are Vittore Carpaccio, Ortolano, Manieri, Panetti, Coltellini, Maestro degli Occhi Spalancati and many more.

Exhibition Space

On the lower floor, there is the Civic Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art, which has hosted high level temporary shows since 1992, when the space was inaugurated by the show on Claude Monet and his friends. Some of the most important shows held here were:

  • From Dahl to Edvard Munch and Alfred Sisley. Poet of Impressionism in 2002,
  • Edgar Degas and the Italians in Paris in 2003,
  • Cubism. Revolution and tradition in 2004,
  • Corot. Nature, emotions, memory in 2006,
  • André Derain and symbolism in 2007,
  • Cosmè Tura and Francesco del Cossa. The art of Ferrara at the time of Borso d'Este and Joan Miró. The land in 2008,
  • Turner and Italy in 2009,
  • Giovanni Boldini in Paris during Impressionism, From Braque to Kandinsky to Chagall. Aimé Maeght and his artists and Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin. The painter of silence in 2010.
Upcoming events

From September 11, 2011 to January 8, 2012, Palazzo dei Diamanti will host "The Crazy Years" dedicated to the extraordinary artistic work that characterized Paris from the end of the Great War to the 1930s. There will be works by, among others, Monet, Matisse, Mondrian, Picasso, Braque, Modigliani, Chagall, Duchamp, De Chirico, Miró, Magritte and Dalí. There will be paintings on display as well as sculptures, theatre costumes, photographs, ready made art, and sketches from the most important museums and private collections in the world.

Building Activity

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