Mehmed II (1433–81)

Reverse side of a bronze medal depicting a chariot.

Bertoldo di Giovanni (ca. 1440–1491)
Mehmed II (1433–81), ca. 1480
3 3/4 in. (9.4 cm)
Gallerie Estensi, Modena (9105)
Inscription: Above the three bound female figures, GRETIE / TRAPESVNTY / ASIE [Greece / Trebizond / Asia]; at bottom, OPVS / bERTOLDI / FLORENTIN / SCVLTOR / IS [The work of Bertoldo Florentine sculptor]
Reverse exhibited | See obverse exhibited
Ministero per i beni e le attività culturali / Archivio fotografico delle Gallerie Estensi / photo Valeria Beltrami

This medal, the largest produced by Bertoldo, is the only one signed by the sculptor and was likely commissioned by Lorenzo as a gift for the Sultan Mehmed II in gratitude for Mehmed's extradition of one of the murderers of his brother. Known as "the Conqueror" for toppling the Byzantine Empire, Mehmed was captivated by western art and requested that artists from Florence and Venice be sent to him. As a result, Gentile Bellini produced a medal of the sultan that subsequently became the basis for Bertoldo's own. The features of Mehmed on Bertoldo's medal are copied from Bellini's, but Bertoldo added the Ottoman half-moon medallion worn by the sitter. The reverse also reflects Bellini's medal, which depicts three crowns symbolizing Mehmed's annexation of Greece, Trebizond, and Constantinople. Bertoldo developed this theme by envisioning a chariot guided by Mars, the god of war, with Mehmed himself standing triumphantly atop it. In his right hand, the sultan holds a rope encircling three nude females, personifications of Mehmed's three major conquests.

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