- Place of origin:
ca. 1445 (made)
- Materials and Techniques:
- Museum number:
- Gallery location:
Medieval & Renaissance, Room 64, The Wolfson Gallery, case 14
The portrait medal was used as a way of showing friendship, wealth and scholarship. It was inspired by doublesided Roman coins, which usually had a portrait of the emperor on one side and Latin inscriptions on both sides. Renaissance medals had a portrait on the obverse (front) and often a motto or allegorical figure on the reverse, underlining the qualities of the person shown in the portrait.
On this example, the obverse shows Domenico’s profile, while the reverse shows him kneeling and holding the feet of a crucifix. The artist Pisanello used the commissioned medal as an opportunity to show his skill at foreshortening, as seen in the rear view of the horse.
Circular medal the obverse depicting Domenico Novello Malatesta as a young man in profile facing left. The reverse show the rear of a horse and a dismounted knight kneeling at the foot of a crucifix.
Place of Origin
ca. 1445 (made)
Materials and Techniques
Marks and inscriptions
On the obverse 'Malatesta Novello, Lord of Cesna' and 'Superior leader of knights'; on the reverse 'The work of Pisano the painter'
Diameter: 8.4 cm, Depth: 0.8 cm
Historical context note
Throughout Pisanello's career as a medallist he used motifs or compositions he had originally invented for his paintings. In his last works, he isolated these motifs within the circular space of the medals to make images that were emblematic rather than pictorial.
On the reverse of this portrait he shows the Lord of Cesena as a Christian knight - vowing on the battlefield to build a hospital dedicated to the Holy Crucifix. The Crucifix on the medal is extracted from the 'Vision of Saint Eustace' a scene painted by Pisanello in about 1438-1442 (now in the National Gallery) in which the cross appears between the antlers of a stag.
Medal of Domenico Novello Malatesta as a young man, bronze, by Pisanello, 1445
Horse; Knight; Crucifix