ALBERTI, Leon Battista
(b. 1404, Genova, d. 1472, Roma)


c. 1435
Bronze, height 20 cm
National Gallery of Art, Washington

Alberti's first appearance in Florence was in 1434, the year of Cosimo de' Medici's return from exile. It was apparently during his time in Florence that Alberti executed a large self-portrait medal in bronze. He shows himself in strict profile, wearing a classical cloak, as indicated by the knot, and a severe haircut based on classical models. Alberti was clearly in the vanguard of artistic developments, for this is one of the earliest, if not the earliest, of Renaissance portrait medals, and also the first independent self-portrait by a Renaissance artist and the first to show the artist dressed in the antique style.

The winged eye to the left is Alberti's emblem; the L. Bap. to the right, which is framed by two smaller eyes, refers to his name.