Pairing Antagonists: Pisanello’s Medals of Niccolò Piccinino and Francesco Sforza
Abstract: Among the early medals made by Pisanello (Antonio Pisano, c. 1395–c. 1455), considered as the “inventor of the modern medal”, there are two of mercenary captains, Niccolò Piccinino and Francesco Sforza (the future duke of Milan). At the alleged moment of the medals’ execution both condottieri were in the service of Filippo Maria Visconti, Duke of Milan, who appears to have been the most probable commissioner. The pairing of these two captains was not coincidental – they were successors to the leaders of the two greatest Italian military companies, the bracceschi (led by Braccio da Montone) and the sforzeschi (of Muzio Attendolo Sforza), whose juxtaposition soon became a topos among contemporary chroniclers and biographers. The article outlines the political background of the commission and discusses the content and iconography of the two medals.