cast Bronze Medal 1447, half length bust of the sitter left, her hair tightly bound with a ribbon, wearing an embroidered gown and pleated skirt, CICILIA VIRGO FILIA IOHANNIS FRANCISCI PRIMI MARCHIONIS MANTVE, rev in a rocky landscape below a crescent moon, a semi-nude young woman rests her hand on the head of a unicorn lying beside her, to the right, a stele, with a floral ornament fixed to its top, bears the inscription OPVS PISANI PICTORIS M CCCC XLVII [the work of Pisanello the painter 1447], 72.5mm (Hill, Corpus 37; Arm I, 5, 12; Currency of Fame 7a, this piece; Pollard 20; Kress 17; Syson & Gordon 3.31a, b). An extremely fine original cast of the highest quality, a masterpiece of renaissance medallic art.
Cecilia Gonzaga was celebrated as a scholar despite her few years. Wishing to pursue her studies rather than marry she elected to join a convent but this met with opposition from her father who had independently arranged for her to marry Oddantonio da Montefeltro of Urbino. Oddantonio reportedly financed his debauched and excessive lifestyle by imposing heavy taxes and was commonly despised. Cecilia refused to marry him. He was ultimately assassinated. The medal’s meaning is clear in its intention to portray the innocence and chastity of the sitter, and the representation of a unicorn in the form of a goat alludes to her acquisition of knowledge. The composition of the medal, the simplicity of the obverse and the symbolism of the reverse, make students of Italian art consider it one of the very best renaissance medals.
166 RENAISSANCE ITALY. Alfonso Ruspagiari (1521-1576). Bust of a Woman viewed by a face in profile, uniface Lead Medal, sculptural bust of a woman shown in three-quarter profile, in the centre of an oval field, wearing a narrow girdle around which a veil is intertwined, she wears earrings and a pendant hanging on a ribbon from her neck, her hair is wound with a twisted cord, the artist’s signature AF can be seen on the sitter’s truncated right arm, from the scrolled frame a viewer’s face is depicted opposite the face of the sitter (Pollard 519; Kress 450; Arm I 216/5; Currency of Fame 73, this piece). Nearly extremely fine and an original cast. Writing in The Currency of Fame, Mary L Levkoff notes that this piece is not technically a medal. As such it illustrates the crossover between renaissance medallic art and renaissance art in other media; consider also the medals that follow this lot. Levkoff suggests that the theme of the work calls to mind a painting by Fra Filippo Lippi in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York, and discusses the themes of Pygmalion and Vanitas. All of these factors strongly support the opinion that these pieces were designed for artisitic display not as historical references. The present ambiguous double portrait continues to fascinate the student.
418 GERMANY and BOHEMIA. Hans Reinhardt the Elder (active 1535-1568). Hans Reinhart the Elder (c.1510-1581),