(b. 1445, Firenze, d. 1510, Firenze)

Portrait of a Man with a Medal of Cosimo the Elder

c. 1474
Tempera on panel, 57,5 x 44 cm
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

Datable soon after 1470. By this time the language of Botticelli under the inspiration of Pollaiolo has become more precise, and through the vibration of the line, expresses a tense inquietude of spirit.

The picture of this unidentified young man is one of the most unusual portraits of the Early Renaissance. The man is gazing at the observer and holding up a medal bearing the profile of the head of Cosimo de' Medici, who died in 1464. Botticelli set the medal into the painting as a gilded plaster cast.

The painting is a a half length portrait in front of an extensive light landscape with a river, and the man's head projects above the horizon. The light, which falls on the subject from the left, clearly shapes his striking features, and there are stronger shadows on the side of his face closer to the observer. The poor drawing of his hands makes the experimental nature of this portrait more than clear. It is one of the earliest Italian portraits to make the hands a part of the portrait's theme.

The commemorative medal of Cosimo dates from about 1465-70 and has given rise to an entire series of suggestions concerning the identity of the man depicted. So far it has not been possible to give a definitive answer to the question whether this is a close relative or supporter of the Medicis, or perhaps the man who created the medal.