Letizia Sanudo

Obverse side of a bronze medal depicting a woman in profile.

Bertoldo di Giovanni (ca. 1440–1491)
Letizia Sanudo, ca. 1480
3 3/8 in. (8.6 cm)
Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris (AV 290)
Inscription: LETICIA SANVTO M VENETA [Letizia Sanudo Venetian Lady]
Obverse exhibited | See exhibited reverse
Bibliothèque Nationale de France

These two specimens are the only known examples of this rare medal that is also Bertoldo's sole depiction of a female sitter. The Venetian lady is seen in a low-cut bodice and flanked by blooming branches. On the reverse, a triumphal scene celebrates her virtue. Two rearing unicorns, fantastical beasts associated with virginity, pull a cart led by a young boy and pushed by a winged putto. Atop the chariot, on the left, is a seated woman with billowing drapery, likely Letizia herself. The female figure guiding the unicorns is therefore a personification of chastity. A winged, blindfolded Cupid appears between them, conquered by the two women. Above, another female descends, bringing a leafy branch to Letizia. Two putti below hold a tablet heralding Letizia as DECVS / M V [The glory of the women of Venice]. The decoration underneath is the Sanudo family's coat of arms.

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