Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Isotta degli Atti (with elephant reverse)

Maker:
Matteo de' Pasti (Italian, Verona ca. 1420–after 1467 Rimini)
Date:
ca. 1450
Culture:
Italian
Medium:
Bronze
Classification:
Medals and Plaquettes
Credit Line:
Collection of Dr. Stephen K. and Janie Woo Scher
Accession Number:
L.2012.38.4
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 605
Obverse: Following her name, in the part of the inscription that is often occupied by a sitter’s title, Isotta is said to have ornamented all Italy by her beauty and virtue, two concepts that were considered strictly interrelated. Isotta was the mistress of the Lord of Rimini. Most unusually, they went on to marry. This medal sought to legitimize their union then and forever.

Reverse: Both the meaning of the gloriously observed elephant and the choice of date – 1446 – are somewhat mysterious, given that the medal was made some years afterwards. The date may mark the beginning of Isotta’s illicit love affair with the Lord of Rimini and the elephant has been interpreted as signifying fame, chastity and magnanimity.
Stephen K. Scher
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