Cast bronze medal of Leon Battista Alberti by Matteo de'Pasti


British Museum

British Museum

Leon Battista Alberti (1404-72) was one of the leading humanist scholars of his day. He earned his living serving various masters as a diplomat, while also a theoretician of painting, sculpture and architecture, codifying art practice and ideas in a series of treatises, and a practising architect. His greatest buildings were constructed in Mantua and Rimini, where he remodelled the church of S Francesco, more commonly known as the Tempio Malatestiano. Assisting him on this project was the miniaturist and medallist Matteo de'Pasti (about 1420-67).Alberti claimed that portraits have the capability of making absent friends present and it was perhaps in this context that he had this medal cast. He may have provided a self-portrait drawing for the front. He certainly provided the design for the reverse, which shows his device, the hieroglyph of the winged eye. This, he explained, represented divinity, 'seeing all things and distinguishing each separate one', the inspiration of the scholar and artist to aim for excellence, to be all-embracing in the pursuit of knowledge.

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  • Title: Cast bronze medal of Leon Battista Alberti by Matteo de'Pasti
  • Date Created: 1446/1450
  • Physical Dimensions: Diameter: 92.50mm; Weight: 238.64g
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: cast; pierced
  • Subject: architect; academic; philosopher
  • Registration number: G3,IP.1
  • Production place: Made in Italy
  • Producer: Designed by Pasti, Matteo de'. Modelled by Pasti, Matteo de'
  • Material: bronze
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Donated by George IV. Previous owner/ex-collection George III