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Leonello d'Este

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Ferrara (made)

  • Date:

    1444 (dated)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Pisanello (medallist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Bronze, cast

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Sculpture, Room 111, The Gilbert Bayes Gallery, case DR14

Leonello d’Este, Marquess of Ferrara (1441–50), was an intellectual ruler and passionate about the arts. He commissioned this medal from Pisanello to mark his marriage to Maria of Aragon in 1444. Pisanello established the format for the portrait medal and produced superb examples for the d’Este family.

Born Pisa or Verona, by 1395. Italian painter, draughtsman and medallist. His richly decorative frescoes, courtly and elegant painted portraits and highly original portrait medals made him one of the most popular artists of the day. He travelled extensively and worked for several Italian courts, at Mantua, Ferrara, Pavia, Milan and Naples. Many of his paintings have been lost or damaged, making a reconstruction of his career difficult. He is now better known as a medallist.

Two-sided Renaissance portrait medals were a form developed by Pisanello, and commemorated individuals or events and functioned as gifts and mementoes. They were inspired by the Roman coins, with their portraits of rulers and allegorical representations on the reverse, excavated all over Italy and eagerly collected by humanist scholars.

Physical description

Bronze medal, obv; a bust of Leonello d'Este Marquis of Ferrara and Rev; cupid with a lion, inscribed with an identification of the sitter, signed and dated 1444

Place of Origin

Ferrara (made)


1444 (dated)


Pisanello (medallist)

Materials and Techniques

Bronze, cast


Diameter: 9.5 cm

Descriptive line

Medal, bronze, by Pisanello, Italy, signed and dated 1444

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Sher, Stephen K, ed. The Currency of Fame - Portrait Medals of the Renaissance. 1994, New York, pp. 47 - 50, Cat. No. 5, Catalogue of the exhibition held National Gallery, Washington; Frick Collection, New York; Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh
de Turckheim-Pey, Sylvie: in Pisanello. Le Peintre aux sept vertus, Paris, 1996 (Musée du Louvre, Paris). Exhibition catalogue, 06/05/1996 - 05/08/1996, pp. 397-8, Cat. No. 272-273, illus. p.390
Inventory of Art Objects Acquired in the Year 1860. In: Inventory of the Objects in the Art Division of the Museum at South Kensington, Arranged According to the Dates of their Acquisition. Vol I. London: Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode for H.M.S.O., 1868, p. 27
Trusted, Marjorie, ed. The Making of Sculpture. The Materials and Techniques of European Sculpture. London: 2007, p. 80, pl. 125
Hill, George Francis. A Corpus of Italian Medals of the Renaissance, Before Cellini, Volume I, Text. London: British Museum, 1930, p. 10





Subjects depicted

Lions (animals)


Coins & Medals; Sculpture; Portraits


Sculpture Collection

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