Pisanello (Antonio Pisano) (Italian, Pisa or Verona by 1395–1455)
model ca. 1449–50 (possibly cast 19th or 20th century)
Copper alloy with a dark brown patina.
Diam. 8 cm, wt. 98.82 g.
Robert Lehman Collection, 1975
Not on view
Active in Verona and the Italian courts, the celebrated master Pisanello left behind a significant legacy, including a large corpus of drawings, several paintings, and the devopment of the Renaissance portrait medal. Inspired by Roman coins, with their portraits of rulers and allegorical representations on the reverse, the medals commemorated individuals or events and functioned as gifts and mementoes. Pisanello’s medal of Don Inigo d'Avalos, grand chamberlain and military general to Alfonso V of Naples, depicts the sitter wearing a fur-trimmed robe and a hat composed of a rolled hood (cappuccio) and long draped portion. The image on the reverse – a spherical earth with the sea and starry sky -- may have been inspired by Homer’s description of the shield of Achilles in the ancient Greek poem, the Iliad. This interpretation would celebrate d’Avalos’ military prowess; however, the image may also have astrological or biblical significance, alluding to the creation of the world or the influence of the stars. Above, flanked by two blossoming rose branches is a shield with a triple-towered castle, the arms of Avalos. This aftercast is from the nineteenth or twentieth century, possibly made by Miss Casella, a member of the Royal Numismatic Society in the 1880s and a medalist in her own right.
Inscription: Inscribed on the obverse: · DON· INIGO· DE·DAVALOS·; inscribed on the reverse: · PER VVI SEFA· ·OPVS· PISANI· PICTORIS·
Henry Oppenheimer, London; Oppenheimer sale, Christie’s, London, 27 July 1936, lot 6, including No. 51 (1975.1.1301) (for £520 to [ John Hunt, London]). Acquired by Robert Lehman through Hunt from the Oppenheimer sale.