Medal of Cecilia Gonzaga
- Pisanello (Antonio Pisano) (Italian, Pisa or Verona by 1395–1455)
- model 1447 (old aftercast)
- Bronze (copper alloy with warm brown patina under a worn layer of black wax)
- Diam. 8.4 cm, wt. 142.55 g.
- Credit Line:
- Robert Lehman Collection, 1975
- Accession Number:
In the dreamlike nocturnal scene on the medal's reverse, an outsize unicorn lies gently at the feet of a half-clad maiden. Thus Pisanello, one of the great artists of the Renaissance, embraces the medieval legend of the taming of the unicorn to create a poetic metaphor for the life of Cecilia Gonzaga, seen on the obverse. This beautiful princess of Mantua refused to
marry, choosing instead to remain a maiden and serve as a nun of the Order of Saint Clare. The
traditional theological association of the unicorn with Christ, therefore, has particular resonance here. The crescent moon is apparently a reference to the classical virgin goddess Diana.