Italy, Bronze Medal of Isotta degli Atti by Matteo de' Pasti, c.1453-54
252.2 grams, 3.5 inch diameter. Obverse: Portrait of Isotta degli Atti surrounded with legend; D.ISOTTAE.ARIMINENSI; reverse: Malatesta elephant over date, M.CCCC.XLVI.
De' Pasti cast two notable medals of Isotta degli Atti (c.1432-c.1475), the mistress and subsequently the third wife of Sigismondo Malatesta. The earlier, dating from c.1450, shows a young woman with hair covered by a veil. In this, the later medal, her tresses are bound into an elaborate dressing; she appears assured and mature. The daughter of a Rimini merchant, Isotta was first seen by Sigismondo at the age of 13 probably in 1446, the year she became his mistress. They married after the death of his second wife, probably in 1456. The inscription 'd[ominae] Isottae ariminensi' means the Lady Isotta of Rimini. As noted above, the date 1446 is commemorative, "the triumphal year when Sigismondo consolidated his political power, dedicated his new castle, and won Isotta as his mistress." De' Pasti is not recorded as being in Rimini before 1449.
The Malatesta elephant on the reverse has been called 'one of the most impressive representations of animals on a Renaissance medal, with its bold and fluid design, massive in its modeling, yet sensitive to the subtle details of the skin; a natural and heraldic figure. The design was modified several times, as it once included inscriptions and two rosebushes; as with the medals showing Sigismondo, various combinations of elements exist for Isotta. The elephant, as well as standing for the Malatesta qualities of strength and fame, even immortality, was traditionally associated with piety and chastity.
Medium bronze surfaces with lighter accents on the highpoints of the design. Normally handled but not marred with any marks, pits, or other notable distractions. Rare and highly collectible.
US$ 1,000 - 1,500
£780 - 1,200