Isotta degli Atti thumbnail 1
Isotta degli Atti thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Sculpture, Room 111, The Gilbert Bayes Gallery

Isotta degli Atti

Medal
1449-1452 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

As artist and counsellor to the Malatesta court at Rimini, Matteo de’ Pasti was commissioned by Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta to commemorate his beautiful third wife, Isotta. His medal shows her dressed in the French or Flemish style of the late Gothic period. The delicacy and balance of the design suggests the influence of Pisanello. The legend in Latin reads, ‘To Isotta of Rimini, the ornament of Italy for beauty and virtue’.
Isotta Atti was the famously beautiful mistress, and eventually third wife, of Sigismondo Malatesta, Lord of Rimini. The elephant depicted on the reverse was a heraldic symbol of the Malatesta, proclaiming fortitude. Here it promotes her link to the family. The year 1446, inscribed in Roman numerals, commemorates not the date of the medal itself, but a significant year in which Sigismondo consolidated his political power and Isotta became his mistress. As a way of ensuring that her fame (and his) endured posthumously, he buried medals of them both in the walls and foundations of the many buildings he commissioned, in self-conscious imitation of the classical tradition of using Roman coins as foundation deposits; as such, many examples of this medal survive.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Bronze, cast
Brief Description
Medal, bronze, bust of Isotta degli Atti, wife of Sigismondo Malatesta, by Matteo de' Pasti, Italy (Rimini), ca. 1449-52
Physical Description
This medal depcits on the obverse the bust of Isotta degli Atti to the right, with a veil at back of head falling to the shoulders. Inscription.

On the reverse an elephant, turned to the right. Inscription.
Dimensions
  • Diameter: 8.5cm
Marks and Inscriptions
  • 'ISOTE . ARIMINENSI . FORMA . ET . VIRTVTE . ITALIE . DECORI' (On the obverse.)
  • 'OPVS . MATHEI . DE . PASTIS . V - M . CCCC . XLVI' (on the reverse.)
Object history
From the Salting bequest.
Historical context
Atti, Isotta (or degli Atti)



Wife of Sigiamondo Maltesta.

She was the famously beautiful mistress, and eventually third wife, of Sigismondo Malatesta, Lord of Rimini. The elephant depicted on the reverse was a heraldic symbol of the Malatesta, proclaiming fortitude. Here it promotes her link to the family. The year 1446, inscribed in Roman numerals, commemorates not the date of the medal itself, executed several years later, but a significant year in which Sigismondo consolidated his political power and Isotta became his mistress. As a way of ensuring that her fame (and his) endured posthumously, he buried medals of them both in the walls and foundations of the many buildings he commissioned, in self-conscious imitation of the classical tradition of using Roman coins as foundation deposits; as such, many examples of this medal survive.
Subjects depicted
Summary
As artist and counsellor to the Malatesta court at Rimini, Matteo de’ Pasti was commissioned by Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta to commemorate his beautiful third wife, Isotta. His medal shows her dressed in the French or Flemish style of the late Gothic period. The delicacy and balance of the design suggests the influence of Pisanello. The legend in Latin reads, ‘To Isotta of Rimini, the ornament of Italy for beauty and virtue’.

Isotta Atti was the famously beautiful mistress, and eventually third wife, of Sigismondo Malatesta, Lord of Rimini. The elephant depicted on the reverse was a heraldic symbol of the Malatesta, proclaiming fortitude. Here it promotes her link to the family. The year 1446, inscribed in Roman numerals, commemorates not the date of the medal itself, but a significant year in which Sigismondo consolidated his political power and Isotta became his mistress. As a way of ensuring that her fame (and his) endured posthumously, he buried medals of them both in the walls and foundations of the many buildings he commissioned, in self-conscious imitation of the classical tradition of using Roman coins as foundation deposits; as such, many examples of this medal survive.
Bibliographic References
  • Constanza Dopfel, "Book and Temple: The story behind Matteo De'Pasti's medals of Sigismundo Malatesta and Isotta Degli Atti", The Medal, No.55 Autumn 2009, pp 4-18.
  • 'Salting Bequest (A. 70 to A. 1029-1910) / Murray Bequest (A. 1030 to A. 1096-1910)'. In: List of Works of Art Acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum (Department of Architecture and Sculpture). London: Printed under the Authority of his Majesty's Stationery Office, by Eyre and Spottiswoode, Limited, East Harding Street, EC, p. 19
Collection
Accession Number
A.175-1910

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record createdApril 27, 2005
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