Italian Renaissance Medal - Filippo Maria Visconti by Pisanello
Filippo Maria Visconti
Bronze, 99.3 mm Ø, 389.4 g
By Antonio di Puccio Pisano, called Pisanello, c. 1441.
Obverse: Bust of Filippo Maria Visconti facing right, wearing soft-top cap and brocaded top embroidered with flowers and a crowned wreath encircling a dove. Around, PHILIPPVS MARIA · ANGLVS · DVX · MEDIOLANI · ETCETERA · PAPIE · ANGLERIE · QVE · COMES · AC · GENVE · DOMINVS (Filippo Maria Anglus, Duke of Milan et cetera, Count of Pavia and Angera, and Lord of Genoa), with a star separating the beginning and end of the inscription.
Reverse: At the left, Visconti on horseback prancing left, wearing full armor with biscione crest on helmet and holding lance. In the middle, another horseman wearing armor and holding lance. At the right, a page on horseback seen from behind. All within a mountainous landscape, with various buildings in the background, and a colossal female statue amongst those on the right. Below, in sunken band, OPVS · PISANI · PICTORIS (The Work of Pisano the Painter).
Filippo Maria Visconti (1392-1447) succeeded his assassinated brother, Giovanni Maria Visconti, as Duke of Milan in 1412. Filippo Maria's expansionist efforts led to conflict and war with Florence and Venice. He died in 1447, with no male heir, and was succeeded by his son-in-law, the condottiere Francesco Sforza.
Notoriously shy about his corpulent appearance, the only contemporary portraits of Filippo Maria are this medal and a drawing by Pisanello. The name "Anglus" in the obverse inscription refers to a mythical ancestor of the Visconti family and grandson of Aeneas. Filippo Maria lost Genoa in 1435 but retained his title, which is also present in the obverse inscription. It has been suggested that the colossal female figure on the reverse is Fortitude, holding her column. The buildings are imagined and do not correlate to any actual structures. The dating of the medal is based on Pisanello's visit to Milan in 1440-1441.
This example is a pleasing though somewhat later cast, with blurred details and noticeable roughness on the reverse.
References: Hill 1930, no. 21; Pollard 2007, nos. 2-3; Scher 2019, no. 2