PASTI, Matteo de'
(b. ca. 1420, Verona, d. ca. 1468, Rimini)

Guarino Guarini da Verona

c. 1453
Cast copper alloy, diameter 9 cm
Münzkabinett, Staatliche Museen, Berlin

Guarino Guarini (1374-1460) was one of the most revered educators and humanists of the early Italian Renaissance. He was best known as the headmaster of a famous humanistic school at the court of the duke of Ferrara. Though born into a poor family, he received an excellent Latin education in his native Verona and then at Padua and Venice. When the Byzantine teacher Manuel Chrysoloras passed through Venice in 1403, Guarino followed him to Constantinople and spent five years studying there (1403-1408). After he returned to Italy about 1408, he struggled to establish himself as a teacher in Florence or Venice. In 1418 he married a wealthy woman of Verona. With the backing of his wife's family, he opened a successful boarding school in Verona and in 1420 was hired by the city to lecture on rhetoric and newly discovered works of Cicero.

In 1429 Guarino accepted an invitation of the ruler of Ferrara to become tutor to the heir to the throne, on condition that the court school also be open to other promising students. His school, which attracted the sons of prominent families from many parts of Italy, was one of the two earliest and most influential humanist schools in Italy; the other was the similar school formed at the court of Mantua by Vittorino da Feltre.

Matteo de' Pasti chose to portray Guarino in uncompromising realism, a forceful, determined personality. There are few renaissance portrait medals that convey so sensitively and intimately not only the features, but also the personality of their subject.