The Michael Hall Collection New York based art collector and connoisseur, Michael Hall, will be selling his collection of Renaissance and later medals through London based coin dealer and numismatic auction house, Baldwin's.
dark room sparkling with captivating metallic medals of the early Italian Renaissance. From then on his attention and passion guided him towards collecting these wonderful miniature masterpieces of sculpture. They stayed for hours gazing at the collection until the museum closed and they dressed to got to the premier
The collection included pieces by the celebrated artist and medallist, Pisanello. Michael describes seeing the artists work for the first time, ‘Pisanello's genius, his brilliant use of perspective in miniature bas relief pleased us more than any American coin ever had.’ Antonio Pisano, called Pisanello, is heralded as the originator of the modern medal and is perhaps its greatest advocate of that form of art. Born in Italy in 1395 he was one of the most eminent painters of the early Renaissance and is famous mainly for his portraits and depictions of animals. A highly regarded artist of his time and the first and most notable commemorative portrait medallist in the first half of the 15th century his style was in many ways ahead of its time. Although much of his artwork has perished over the years many of his drawings and much of his medal work has endured. His style is described as refined and subtle and he is noted for his skills of observation.
One of the most important pieces to be included in the first auction of the Hall Collection will be Pisanello’s cast bronze portrait medal of Cecilia Gonzaga. Dating from 1447, the medal of the 21 year old Cecilia Gonzaga shows his only female subject. On the reverse, in a moonlit landscape, she is depicted near-naked as the figure of Innocence who, as a virgin, is able to tame the Unicorn. It is an image filled with symbolism – Graham Pollard in the new (2008) catalogue of the collection of the National Gallery in Washington, calls it a “gracious and charming conceit”. This stunning medal was selected by the art historian Stephen K. Scher for the 1994/5 touring exhibition, The Currency of Fame (as were four further medals in the collection). Baldwin’s are expecting the medal to sell for a figure in excess of £65,000.
The majority of the collection of 2500 medals was formed in the 1960s and ‘70s, a period when Hall was living for much of the time in London. The medals were purchased from the dealers of the day, in London and other European centres, rather than at auction and include a group of Florentine Baroque medals that will be seen as a match to the Lankheit Collection sold by Morton & Eden (May 2003). Over the ensuing years the collection has remained mostly unseen. Michael Hall gifted most of his British medals to the Los Angeles County Museum some years ago, though some important pieces were retained and will be offered in the three auctions. The collection is, by far, the largest sale of Renaissance pieces since the Max and Maurice Rosenheim (Sotheby 1923) and Henry Oppenheimer (Christie’s 1936) sales and