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Long before the time of Emperor Charles V, at the very beginning of the Renaissance

Malatesta in Rimini
 
Pandolfo III Malatesta, 1370-1427, Signore de Fano, Brescia and Bergamo
Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta, 1417-1468, since 1432 Signore de Rimini
Isotta degli Atti, 1432/33-1474, mistress and later wife of Sigismondo Malatesta
Domenico Malatesta (Novello), 1418-1465, since 1429 Signore de Cesena

The Malatesta family owned many properties in the hinterland of Rimini. In 1295 they were able to drive out their rivals and become lords (Signore) of Rimini. They ruled there until 1503, when Pandolfo Malatesta (†1527) sold Rimini to Venice. They also acquired other dominions in Romagna - such as Cesena, which reverted to the Papal States in 1465, as well as Pesaro, where the Sforza followed them in 1445.
Emperor Frederick I granted the then independent town of Rimini the right to mint coins in 1157. This right was confirmed by the Pope in 1250. The mint was closed by order of Pope Pius II in 1463.

Location of Rimini and Cesena on the map of Italy at 1499

Pandolfo III Malatesta, 1370-1427, Signore de Fano,
Brescia (1404-1421), Bergamo (1407-1419) and Lecco (1408-1418)
Pandolfo III grew up at the Malatesta court in Rimini, received an excellent education and became a condottiere like his elder brother Carlo I (Lord of Rimini, Pesaro and Cesana). In this generation the Malatesta reached the height of their power. With the active support of his brother Carlo I, Randolfo temporarily seized control of Brescia (1404-1421), Bergamo (1407-1419) and Lecco (1408-1418). After his death in 1427, his childless brother Carlo took over the education of his sons Sigismondo and Domenico in Rimini, see below.

Brescia (1404-1421), Soldino (mezzo grosso).   Ø 18 mm, 1,05 g.   CNI IV/84,11/15; MIR 118.
Obv.:   +PAИDVLFVS:D:BRIXIE: 3C   -   Head with diadem and beard.
Rev.:   ·S·APOL - OИIVS ×   -   Seated Saint Apollonius with crosier, right raised for blessing.
This is probably one of the earliest coins with the Renaissance portrait of a person entitled to mint,
at the same time the only coin from the House of Malatesta to bear a portrait of a ruler.
(Denarii bearing a moor's head also appeared, CNI IV/86,11/15; MIR 121)

The Visconti reconquered the town of Brescia in 1421, which had been in their possession in 1336-1404.

Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta, 1417-1468, since 1432 Signore de Rimini
Sigismondo, born in Brescia and adopted by his uncle Carlo I when his father died, became known as a brilliant condottiere who won decisive victories for Pope Eugene IV (1431-1447) and the Republic of Florence in 1448 and 1453 with sophisticated siege tactics. He was also a great patron of the arts and made Rimini a vibrant centre of Renaissance culture.

Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta clearly recognised the beneficial effect of a medal portrait and its diplomatic significance when he commissioned two medals from Pisanello around 1445.
Pisanello (Antonio di Puccio Pisano *1385 †1455) is considered the creator of Renaissance medals.


Cast bronze medal c. 1445 by Pisanello (Antonio Pisano).     Ø 90 mm, 279 g.
Armand I/5,15; Hill Corpus 33a; Kress Coll.(NGA) 12; Börner (Berlin) 17.
Specimen in the Numismatic Collection, Staatlichen Museen Berlin

Obv.:   ✱SIGISMVNDVS·PANDVLFVS·DE·MALATESTIS·A RIMINI·FANI✱D
Bust right, ornamented robe.
Rev.:   OPVS PISANI PICTORIS  -  Standing Sigismundo Pandolfo in full armour from the front.
He draws his sword from its scabbard. On the right rose bush with escutcheon.
On the left rose bush with heraldic helmet: crown and dragon with elephant head as decoration.


Cast lead medal 1445 by Pisanello (Antonio Pisano).     Ø 103 mm, 459 g.
Armand I/5,14; Hill Corpus 34a; Kress Coll.(NGA) 13; Börner (Berlin) 18.
Specimen in the Numismatic Collection, Staatlichen Museen Berlin

Obv.:   ✱SIGISMVNDVS·DE·MALATESTIS·ARIMINI·7C·ET·ROMANE·ECLLESIE·CAPITANEVS / GENERALIS.  -  Bust right, the rose from the Malatesta coat of arms on his shoulder.
Rev.:   OPVS - PISANI - PICTORIS  -  In the background the fortress of Rocca Contrada, with the date MCCCC/XLV on the left and the Malatesta coat of arms on the right. In the foreground Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta in armour on horseback to the left, the horse's armour decorated among other things with the rose.

Matteo di Andrea de' Pasti (*1405, Sculptor, painter and medallist from 1441,
from 1449 in Rimini, †1467/8)


Cast bronze medal 1446 by Matteo de' Pasti.     Ø 81,5 mm.
Armand I,20,11; Hill Corpus 180; Kress Coll. 61; Pollard, Bargello 43 = Vannel/Toderi 69.

Obv.:  ✱SIGISMONDVS·PANDVLFVS·MALATESTA·PAN·F·PONTIFICI·EXER·IMP
Bust left, with shirt but without armour.
Rev.:   Fortitude (personification of strength) with crown, cuirass and long tunic, sitting forward on a seat whose sides are formed by forelimbs of matalesta elephants; she holds a broken column in both hands; below MCCCCXLVI


Bronze medal 1446 by Matteo de' Pasti.     Ø 42 mm.
Armand I/20,14; Hill Corpus 181.

Obv.:   SIGISMONDVS P D MALATESTIS S R ECL C GENERALIS
bust left, hair bunched, wearing tunic.
Rev.:   MCCCC - XLVI  -  seated figure of Fortitude on high-backed throne, holding a broken column.


Cast bronze medal 1446 by Matteo de' Pasti.       Ø 84 mm, 260 g.
Hill Corpus 177; Kress Coll. 60; Bargello 42; Berlin 60.

Obv.:  ✱SIGISMONDVS·PANDVLFVS·DE·MALATESTIS·Sacrii·ROmane·ECLESIE·Capitaneus·GENERALIS
bust left, ohne armour, just like before.
Rev.:  ✱CASTELLVM·SISMONDVM·ARIMINENSE·M·CCCC·XLVI
 -  View of the fort of Rimini, completed in 1446.


Cast bronze medal 1446 by Matteo de' Pasti.     Ø 80 mm.
Armand I,20,12; Hill Corpus 186; Kress Coll. 62; Pollard Bargello 48 = Vannel & Toderi 73.

Obv.:  SIGISMVNDVS PANDVLFVS·MALATESTA·PAN·F·  -  Bust left, with armour.
Rev.:   CASTELLVM·SISMVNDVM·ARIMINENSE:M·CCCC·XLVI·  -  View of the fort of Rimini.
Today, the time between 1448-1450 or 1452 is generally assumed as the date of origin of the medal. The date given on the medal is therefore a "commemorative date", the date of the actual completion of the "Rocca Malatestiana" and thus also of the consolidation of his rule in Rimini.


Bronze medal 1746 by Matteo de' Pasti.    Ø 42 mm, 49,01 g.
Hill Corpus 165; Kress Coll. 58; Pollard I/39; Vannel/Toderi Bargello I/63.

Obv.:   SIGISMONDVS·P·D·MALATESTIS·S·R·ECL·C·GENERALIS·  -  Bust left.
Rev.:   ·Opus·Mathei·De - ·Pastis·Veronensis· / ·M CCCC XLVI·  -  Helmeted coat of arms with
the initials SI on crest mantle, on the helmet a crown and crest dragon with elephant head.


Bronze medal 1746 by Matteo de' Pasti.     Ø 43 mm, 56,24 g.
Hill, Corpus 166; Kress Coll. -; Bargello 39a.

Obv.:   SIGISMONDVS P D MALATESTIS S R ECL S GENERALIS  -  Bust left.
Rev.:   As before, but without a signature.


Bronze medal 1450 after Matteo de' Pasti.     Ø 40 mm, ca.40 g.
Armand I,21,17; Hill Corpus 183; Kress 66; Pollard 37; Vannel Toderi Bargello 78; Börner 62.

Obv.:   ·SIGISMVNDVS PANDVLFVS·MALATESTA·PANdulfi·Filius·  -  Laureled bust in armour left.
Rev.:   ·PRAECLarum·A RIMINI·TEMPLVM·ANno·GRATIAE·Votum·Fecit· - M·CCCC·L·  -  Facade of the church of San Francesco (Templo Malatestiano) in Rimini, designed by Leon Battista Alberti.
One of the most important buildings in Rimini is the 13th century church of San Francesco, which Sigismundus Malatesta had remodelled by Léon Battista Alberti from 1450-1460 into a burial and glory church for his family. The grandly structured but unfinished facade and the side walls, each with seven mighty round arches under which stand sarcophagi of humanists, are major works of the Renaissance. In the single-nave interior, the side chapels were richly decorated with Renaissance paintings under the direction of Matteo de' Pasti.


Cast bronze medal 1447, workshop Matteo de' Pasti.     Ø 31 mm.
Armand I/21,18; Hill Corpus 182; Kress Coll.-; Pollard, Bargello 46.

Obv.:   SIGISMVNDVS PANDVLFVS·MALATESTA·  -  Bust left.
Rev.:   PONTIFICII·EXERCITVS·IMP·M·CCCCXLVII·
An arm, clothed, issuing from a cloud, and holding a birch-rod, the symbol of command.

Isotta degli Atti, 1432/33-1474, mistress and later wife of Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta
Born in Rimini as the daughter of a wealthy wool merchant, she became the mistress of Sigismondo Malatesta in 1446. The affair became known in 1449 after the death of Malatesta's second wife. In 1456 the couple married.
Sigimondo Malatesta had married Ginevra d'Este in 1433 at the age of 16 for political reasons, and she died a few years later. Then in 1441 he married Polissena, an illegitimate daughter of Francesco Sforza, who died of the plague eight years later in 1449. Papal propaganda later accused Sigismondo of helping Polissena to die so that he could marry his mistress Isotta. This bitter enmity culminated in 1462 with his damnation to hell, dubbing as the "Greatest Monster on Earth" and the public burning of his image in St Peter's Square in Rome by Pope Pius II (1458-1464).

Bronze medal 1446 by Matteo de' Pasti.     Ø 84 mm.
Armand I/21,19; Hill Corpus 187; Pollard 33 = Kress Coll. 63; Bargello 49; Berlin 64; Currency of Fame 13.

Obv.:   ·D·ISOTTAE· - ·A RIMINENSI·
Bust right, hair held with crossed bands and falling down in two masses behind.
Rev.:   *M·CCC·XLVI*  -  Malatesta elephant (sign of magnanimity / strength) stands in a meadow with flowers and two rose bushes.


Bronze medal 1446 von Matteo de' Pasti.     Ø 85 mm.
Armand I/21,20; Hill Corpus 167; Pollard 31 = Kress 59; Currency of Fame 12.

Obv.:   *ISOTE*ARIMINENSI*FORMA*ET*VIRTVTE*ITALIE*DECORI*
"Isotta of Rimini, the ornament of Italy for beauty and virtue"  -  Bust right, the hair is pinned up,
the veil is fastened behind the ear with a jewel.

Rev.:   *OPVS·MTHEI·DE·PASTIS·V* - *M·CCCC·XLVI*  -  As before, further rose behind the elephant.
The date of 1446 refers to the year that Sigismondo claimed Isotta as his mistress. In that year Matteo de Pasti was in Verona, only coming to Rimini in 1449, the year that Sigismondo’s second wife Polissena Sforza died. His various medals of Isotta, of which this type is his masterpiece, would have been made then or in the immediate years following.


Bronze medal 1446 by Matteo de' Pasti.     Ø 41 mm.
Armand I/22,24; Hill Corpus 189; Kress Coll.65.     Specimen in the Alberto Delitala Collection

Obv.:   Dominae·ISOTTAE·ARIMINENsi·M·CCCCXLVI·  -  Bust right, as before.
Rev.:   ELEGIAE·   "Lamentation"  -  Closed book.


Bronze medal 1446 by Matteo de' Pasti.     Ø 41 mm.
Armand I/22,25; Hill Corpus 171; Bargello I,41.     Specimen in the Alberto Delitala Collection

Obv.:   ·ISOTE·ARIMINENSI·FORMA·ET·VIRTVTE·ITALIE·DECORI·  -  Bust as before.
Rev.:   ·M·CCCCXLVI·  -  An angel in floating drapery, emerging from a cloud; flying to the left,
holding a wreath in both hands.
[The signature (OPVS·MATHEI·DE·PASTIS· - ...) has been removed and replaced by grassy ground]

Domenico Malatesta (Novello), 1418-1465, since 1429 Signore de Cesena
Domenico (*1418), like his older brother Sigismondo, was taken in as an orphan by his uncle Carlo and adopted. When the uncle died in 1429, Domenico inherited the lordship of Cesena at the age of 11. On his way back from his coronation in Rome, Emperor Sigismund visited Rimini in 1433 and knighted the Malatesta brothers. Domenico then called himself Malatesta Novello ('the Younger'). He valued literature and founded the Biblioteca Malatestiana in Cesena, the oldest surviving civic library in Europe, now a UNESCO cultural heritage site.
The peaceable Domenico could not avoid being drawn into the turmoil of war. He led papal troops first alongside Francesco Sforza, then against him in 1444, when he came into danger.

Cast bronze medal n. d. (c. 1444-45) by Pisanello (Antonio di Puccio Pisano, 1395-1455).
Ø 85 mm, 225 g.    Armand I/5,16; Hill Corpus 35; Kress Coll.15; Bargello 12; Börner 19; Currency of Fame 6.

Obv.:   ·DVX·EQVITVM·PRAESTANS·   "Superior leader of knights"
·MALATESTA - NOVELLVS / CESENAE·DO - MINVS·
Portrait to the left with curly hair and fur-trimmed robe.
Rev.:   ·OPVS·PISANI - PICTORIS.   "The work of Pisano the painter"
In a rocky landscape with scraggy trees, Malatesta kneels in front of a crucifix,
back view of his horse on the left.

Lit.:
• Armand, Alfred: Les Médailleurs Italiens des quinzième et seizième siècles, 2 vols. Paris 1833
• Hill, G.F.: A corpus of Italian medals of the Renaissance before Cellini, 2 vols. London 1930
• Hill / Pollard: Renaissance Medals from the Kress Collection at the NGA, Washington, London 1967
• Pollard, J. G.: Medaglie italiane del Rinacimento nel Museo Nationale del Bargello, Florenz. Bd.I, 1984
• Börner, L.: Die italienischen Medaillen der Renaissance und des Barock (1450-1750). Berliner Numismatische Forschungen 5 (Berlin 1997)
• Scher, Stephen K.: The Currency of Fame: Portrait Medals of the Renaissance, 1994
• Toderi, G. / Vannel, F.: Medaglie Italiane del Museo Nazionale del Bargello, vol.1 (secoli XV e XVI), 2003
• Pollard, J. G.: National Gallery of Art, Washington. Renaissance Medals, I. Italy (2007)
• The Renaissance Portrait: From Donatello to Bellini, Exhibition Metropolitan Museum of Art, N.Y.2012 & MetPublication
• Ursula Kampmann: Sigismondo Malatesta - Condottiere and Ruler of Rimini, CoinWeekly 14.10.2009
• Oxford Bibliographies: Sigismondo Malatesta
• www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/: Pasti, Matteo de'

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