PISANELLO
(b. 1395, Pisa, d. 1455, Roma)

Alfonso of Aragon

1449
Gilded bronze, cast, diameter 11 cm
Private collection

Alfonso V (1396—1458), was the king of Aragon (1416–58) and king of Naples (as Alfonso I, 1442–58), whose military campaigns in Italy and elsewhere in the central Mediterranean made him one of the most famous men of his day. After conquering Naples, he transferred his court there. His byname was Alfonso the Magnanimous. He was a key player in Italian politics of the fifteenth century.

Alfonso had lured to Naples outstanding humanists, and he was eager to secure the services of the most celebrated artist of the day: Pisanello, who had portrayed virtually every significant ruler and military commander in the Italian peninsula. Pisanello moved to Naples in 1448 to begin work on the portrait medal of the king, shown here, the largest and most complex medal he has yet designed. On the obverse of the medal the king is shown in the armour resembling what he actually wore. The profile portrait emphasizes the king's eagle-beak nose. On the reverse, an imperious eagle is perched on a stump, while five smaller birds, including vultures, await their portion of the slain deer.




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