Jones, Tanja (Tuscaloosa, AL): Vivified Heraldry: On Pisanello’s Medallic Imagery

Analyses of the earliest cast portrait medals, produced by Pisanello from the late 1430s through the 1440s, often focus on identifying ancient numismatic sources for the imagery found on the small, sculpted works of art, a pursuit consonant with the traditional identification of the objects as reviving antique traditions of personal commemoration. Less considered is Pisanello’s adoption, manipulation, and vivification of heraldic insignie in medallic imagery. Focusing on medals produced for Ludovico Gonzaga of Mantua, Sigismondo Malatesta of Rimini, Filippo Maria Visconti of Milan, and Alphonso I of Naples, this paper examines Pisanello’s employment of heraldic elements in emblematic and narrative imagery to forward identification of patrons with contemporary political and religious concerns. Particular attention is paid to the Gonzaga medals and their incorporation of heraldic insignie granted to the rulers of Mantua by the Emperor Sigismond in 1432.  Sustained consideration of the text of the imperial charter, the concurrent modification of the Gonzaga arms, and the medallic imagery offers new avenues for addressing the range of Pisanello’s visual sources as well as the function that medals, as bearers of a complex, visual language, conveyed to contemporaries.

This paper will be presented at the workshop: Heraldic artists and painters in the Middle Ages / Peintres et artistes héraldistes au Moyen Age (Poitiers, 10-11 April 2014)

Cite the article as: Torsten Hiltmann, "Jones, Tanja (Tuscaloosa, AL): Vivified Heraldry: On Pisanello’s Medallic Imagery", in: Heraldica Nova: Medieval and Early Modern Heraldry from the Perspective of Cultural History (a blog), published: 27/02/2014, Internet:

Torsten Hiltmann

Torsten Hiltmann is Juniorprofessor for the High and Late Middle Ages and Auxiliary Sciences at the University of Münster. He is interested in medieval and early modern visual communication and heraldry, the medieval notion of kingship and the methods and technologies of Digital Humanities.

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