Portrait of an unknown with a medal - Sandro Botticelli. 57.5 x 44 cm
The presented picture is unique in its execution. We see an unknown young man holding an impressive medal to his chest depicting the profile of Cosimo Medici the Elder, the founder of the famous European dynasty.
However, with a close examination of the original, you can see that the medal is depicted very unusual. In the board on which the young man is depicted, a round niche was made by the master, where pastilla was inserted after. Pastille is called the special technique of stucco relief, invented by Italians. In this technique, a plaster medal was made, repeating the original completely, and then covered with gold paint. Only after that she took a place in the composition of the picture.
The image of the young man is also very unusual for the Quattrocento period. Before Botticelli, the portrait was portrayed in profile, whatever background was missing, so as not to distract the work from the hero. Botticelli himself painted many such portraits. But here the painter allowed himself an experiment. He turned the hero of the picture virtually in full view, and also added a background - a green pastoral landscape.
Who specifically depicted the master, and who was the customer of the portrait - the answers to these questions have not yet been found. Historians and art historians only express their assumptions based on artistic analysis. It is hypothesized that the artist himself is depicted in the painting, as there are external resemblances to the hero of the painting “Adoration of the Magi”, and we know for certain that the author portrayed himself there. There are also versions that once a medal is present at work, then the model in the picture is related to it. These could be the authors of the medal Michelozzo di Bartolomeo or Christopher di Jeremiah. Or maybe this is the brother of the artist Antonio, because it is known that he, as a jeweler, was engaged in the manufacture of Medici medals.
The history of the picture is unknown until the moment when it fell into the hands of Cardinal Carl Medici. He, in turn, bequeathed her to the Uffizi Gallery after his death, which overtook him in 1666. Since then, the mysterious picture has not changed the “place of registration”. Unless she left the exhibition in 1991 - restorers took up the "Portrait of the Unknown with a Medal". After restoration work, she returned to the gallery, where she can be seen today.