Visual Arts, University of Nottingham
Portrait medals, highly fashionable from the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries, are one of the most overlooked art forms of the Italian Renaissance despite surviving in large quantities and possessing considerable potential for advancing our understanding of the culture, society and values of the period. Within this already underexplored group of objects are a body of medals which have been almost entirely neglected – those of the local, un-named women of Renaissance Italy. By placing these medals in an historical context, I will aim to understand their function and meaning in relation to gender, fame and individuality.
It is anticipated that the research project will demonstrate that these portrait medals do not just depict idealised, beautiful women (belle donne), but actual individuals who were commemorated because of their own personal merit and virtue. These objects provide, then, a unique opportunity to illuminate those women who might otherwise have been lost to history and, with it, allow a more nuanced understanding of gender in numismatics, art history and museum collections alike.
Patricipant in the European Research Council funded programme 'Digital Editing of Medieval Manuscripts', 2013-2016.