Italian Renaissance Medal - Isabella of Aragon by Gian Cristoforo Romano

Discussion in 'World Coins' started by Iosephus, May 25, 2020.

  1. Iosephus

    Iosephus Well-Known Member

    Isabella of Aragon

    By Gian Cristoforo Romano, 1507.

    Bronze, 47.3 mm Ø, 36.4 g

    Obverse: Bust of Isabella of Aragon facing right with veil covering head. Around, ISABELLA ARAGONIA DVX MLI (Isabella of Aragon, Duchess of Milan).

    Reverse: Seated nearly nude female figure facing right, holding a palm branch in her right hand and a wand with snake entwined around it in her left hand. In front of her, a palm tree with a bundle of dates on both the left and right side. Around, CASTITATI · VIRTVTIQ · INVICTAE (Chastity and Virtue Invincible).

    Isabella of Aragon was born in Naples in 1470, the daughter of the future King Alfonso II and a cousin of Isabella d'Este. She married Gian Galeazzo Sforza, Duke of Milan, in 1489, and they had four children, though only two lived past childhood. After the duke's death in 1494, Isabella remained in Milan until Louis XII of France took control in 1499, at which time she fled to Naples. Louis would later invest her as Duchess of Bari in 1500, and she ruled there until her death in 1524.

    This medal was likely created in Naples. It was mentioned along with two others made by Gian Cristoforo Romano in a letter from the Mantuan ambassador to Naples, Jacopo d'Atri, to Isabella d'Este in Mantua dated October 24, 1507. The portrait of Isabella on the medal was in progress, with the face and head completed but the veil not yet finished. Jacopo referred to it as a "beautiful thing".

    It has been suggested that the two bunches of dates on the palm tree are an allusion to Isabella's two surviving children, Francesco and Bona. The palm tree can be seen as a symbol of virtue (Psalm 91:13, The just shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow up like the cedar of Libanus). If the palm represents virtue, then if the design parallels the reverse inscription, it is possible that the seated figure represents chastity, though she lacks the traditional attributes of chastity. The snake entwined around a rod is a symbol of prudence, while the palm branch traditionally denotes victory, peace, or virtue.

    References: Hill 1930, no. 223; Norris 1987, p. 138; Pollard 2007, no. 119
    PaulTudor, spirityoda and ycon like this.
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  3. Stork

    Stork I deliver Supporter

    Another amazing piece!
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