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Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Verona (made)

  • Date:

    1445 (dated)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Pisanello (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Cast bronze

  • Credit Line:

    Salting Bequest

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Medieval & Renaissance, Room 64, The Wolfson Gallery, case SS, shelf 3

This medal depicts the portrait bust of Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta and is made by Pisanello in 1445.

Antonio Pisano (b.ca. 1395; d. 1455) was born Pisa or Verona, by 1395. He was an 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.

The depicted Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta (1417-1468) was a noble, soldier and patron. Apart from his numerous political and military activities he made the city of Rimini into an important Renaissance centre for art, science and learning.
He was one of the first to realise the propaganda potential of medal-art and commissioned Pisanello to make some 15 medals.
He has been represented as one of the most disreputable but highly cultured rulers of the Renaissance. Burkhardt wrote: ‘Unscrupulousness, impiety, military skill and high culture have been seldom so combined in one individual as in Sigismondo Malatesta’.

Physical description

Medal in bronze of Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta (1417-1468).
Obverse: Malatesta, to right and bareheaded, in armour, with inscription.
Reverse: Malatesta mounted, in full armour, riding to the left. His right hand is raised, holding a mace. Behind, among rocks, a fortress with two towers, one bearing the date, 'M.CCCC.XLV.', and the other the Malatesta arms. Signature.

Place of Origin

Verona (made)


1445 (dated)


Pisanello (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Cast bronze

Marks and inscriptions

Inscribed in Latin, ‘Work of Pisano the painter’ and ‘1445’ in Roman numerals Obverse inscribed in Latin, ‘Sigismondo Malatesta of Rimini etcetera and captain general of the Roman Church’


date on reverse



Diameter: 10.3 cm, Depth: 0.4 cm, Weight: 0.38 kg

Object history note

From the Salting bequest.

Descriptive line

Medal, bronze, of Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta (1417-1468), by Pisanello, Italy (Verona), dated 1445

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

'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. 17





Subjects depicted

Towers; Armour; Horses; Coats-of-arms; Flowers; Roman numerals; Horsemen; Maces; Helmets; Nobles; Fortresses; Portraits


Sculpture; Coins & Medals; Portraits


Sculpture Collection

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