Renaissance MEDALS

The Hermitage, Leningrad

Among the Hermitage's richest collections of art treasures the collection of medals deserves a special mention. During the Renaissance, the collecting of ancient coins, called medaglia, became the passion of many Italian humanists, including the great Petrarch. According to legend it was he who first thought of creating a medal which resembled a coin, though had no practical use. However, scholars consider that the mid-fifteenth-century painter and sculptor Pisanello was the first to conceive this form of plastic art. Pisanello designed a medal which was round like a coin but larger in size, and worked out the arrangement of inscriptions accompanying the relief illustrations on the obverse and reverse of the medal. These inscriptions were usually in Latin, the language of Renaissance scholars and humanists. Pisanello and his followers, who were active in many Italian cities in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, employed the casting technique in order to receive several copies from one mould. The Italian medals depicted a remarkable gallery of Renaissance notables. The appearance and flowering of medal-casting in Germany was also associated with the Renaissance. Among a brilliant galaxy of sixteenth-century medallists was Albrecht Durer, who himself created a few portrait medals — the genre of portraiture was prevalent in Germany as it was in Italy. The Hermitage possesses a number of unique German medals, including wood and stone originals from which moulds were made. Although medallic art also became popular in France in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, it reached its peak in the seventeenth century, which is known as the golden age of the French medal. This set presents a number of outstanding European Renaissance medals from the Hermitage.

Yevgeniya Shchukina


Medal of Pisanello, Antonio Marescotti

Antonio Marescotti. Active 1444—62 Medallist. Worked in Ferrara
Medal of Pisanello (obverse) Cast bronze. Diameter 57 mm

Constanzo of Ferrara. Medal of Sultan Muhammad II. 1481

Anonymous master of Niccolo Fiorentino's school. Medal of Giovanna Albizzi Tornabuoni. 1486(?)

Antico (Pier Jacopo Alari-Bonacolsi). C. 1460—1528 Medal of Gian Francesco Gonzaga di Rodigo

Andrea Guacialotti. 1435—1495.Medal of Niccollo Palmieri. 1467

Matteo de' Pasti. C. 1420—1468. Medal of Isotta degli Atti of Rimini. 1446

Pisanello (Antonio di Puccio Pisano). C. 1395—1455. Medal of Filippo Maria Visconti. C. 1441

Anonymous Florentine master. Medal of Cosimo de' Medici. After 1465

Matteo de' Pasti. C. 1420—1468. Medal of Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta. 1446

Benvenuto Cellini. 1500—1570. Medal of Pope Clement VII. 1534

Pisanello (Antonio di Puccio Pisano). C. 1395—1455. Medal of Cecilia Gonzaga. 1447

Andrea Cambi (Bombarda). Active 1560—75. Medal of Leonora Cambi


Friedrich Hagenauer. Active between 1525 and 1543. Portrait of an unknown woman. 1530

Hans Reinhart the Elder. C. 1510—1581. Medal with scenes from the Old and New Testaments. 1536

Anonymous master from Nuremberg. Model for the medal of Hieronymus Waal. 1543

Anonymous master (from a drawing by A. Durer). Medal of Charles V struck to the order of the Council of Nuremberg. 1521


Guillaume Dupre. C. 1576—1647. Medal of Henry IV, Marie de Medicis and the successor to the throne (the future Louis XIII). 1603

© Aurora Art Publishers, Leningrad, 1987
Printed in the USSR
Renaissance Medals