Portrait medals acted as a personal emblem that expressed a characteristic, an interest or accomplishment of the person they were meant to embody. This tangible token is a commemorative method for the commissioner to leave a lasting mark of themselves in imagery unique to the individual. It is way for them to illustrate their greatest accomplishments and achievements as well as relevant imagery that is representational of their life. This unique portrait style comes from an inspiration of Roman coins and the renaissance revival of interest in Antiquity. The coins are double sided, displaying a portrait on one side and imagery on the other. The imagery is often a metaphor for Greek and Roman history myths and Biblical stories. Portrait medals are typically made of bronze, an expensive material of the time.
Coins were used as a propaganda method and a way to circulate his or her self image. Commissioning a coin was a sign of wealth and power. They were beautiful objects that held meaning and symbolism as well as prompted discussion. To receive a coin from a patron was considered an honor and therefore, became a collectors item of the period.