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Tempera painting - Profile of a laureated bust of a Roman emperor facing left
  • Profile of a laureated bust of a Roman emperor facing left
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Profile of a laureated bust of a Roman emperor facing left

  • Object:

    Tempera painting

  • Place of origin:

    Lombardy (painted)

  • Date:

    ca. 1500 (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Tempera on spruce panel

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Medieval & Renaissance, Room 64, The Wolfson Gallery, case EXP, shelf ABOVE

This is one of 28 anonymous panels, painted around 1490-1500, which originally decorated the ceiling of a Lombard palace. They represent profile heads and coats of arms, enclosed within decorative borders. The heads repeat three generalised types with minor variations: seven of young women with Lombard hair styles facing left, six of young men wearing bonnets facing right, six Roman emperors within roundels facing left, as in this panel, and four facing right. Such decorative panels decorated the leading edges of the wooden joists which supported the flat, grid-like ceilings in the principal rooms of fifteenth century Lombard palaces.

The identifiable arms are those of the North Italian noble families of Vimercati and Malatesta. It is likely that these panels were commissioned to commemorate the wedding of Francesco Vimercati of Crema to a lady of the Malatesta family , which probably occurred sometime after 1487. Vimecati had a distinguished career as a Podesta, or principal magistrate, in several major North Italian cities, including Mantua, Reggio Emilia, Lucca and Florence. The location of his residence is unknown, but as two palaces of other members of Vimercati family in Crema have similar ceilings, it is likely that it was also in his native city of Crema, near Milan.

Physical description

Profile bust of a laureated Roman Emperor facing left : one of 29 panels painted on spruce

Place of Origin

Lombardy (painted)


ca. 1500 (painted)



Materials and Techniques

Tempera on spruce panel


Height: 47 cm average, Width: 41 cm average, Depth: 4.2 cm

Object history note

Palace of Francesco Vimercato (?), Crema
Bought in 1901

Historical context note

See under 1325-1901

Descriptive line

Profile bust of a laureated Roman Emperor facing left: one of 29 panels painted on spruce

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

Kauffmann, C.M., Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, I. Before 1800. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973, pp. 172-74, cat. no. 213.

Labels and date

PAINTED PANELS with profile busts and the Malatesta arms
About 1490-1500

These come from a set of 29 panels that formed a frieze under a coffered ceiling, a common arrangement in Lombard palaces around the end of the 15th century. Such decoration was often made in connection with a marriage alliance. In this case it was between Francesco Vimercati and a Malatesta princess from Rimini.

Italy, Lombardy

Tempera on pine

Probably from the Palazzo Vimercati, Crema [2008]


Tempera; Spruce






Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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