by Alexandra Tuschka
The clear profile clearly contrasts with the black background. The head and upper body are turned into the side profile. This corresponds to the tradition of Roman patrons. Sigismondo also commissioned great artists such as the architect Leon Battista Alberti. The dark background is typical for portraits of rulers in the 15th century.
The sharpness of the profile is due to a preliminary drawing on cardboard. The artist also used this study for another image of the man in a fresco in the Temio Malatestiano, in which Sigismondo Malatesta kneels before St. Sigismund.
Sigismondo was a controversial figure. He was a condottiere and nobleman from the Malatesta family, who administered several towns on the Italian Adriatic coast as vicars of the Pope.
Sigismondo was an unreliable and undiscerning fighter who made many enemies by his behavior. He suffered many defeats, so that in the end only Rimini remained to be held. But Sigismondo was an educated man who knew about the effect of art. He made use of panel paintings, frescoes and medals, among other things, to stamp his image on his contemporaries and descendants.
Piero della Francesca - Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta
Oil on wood, 1451, 44.5 cm x 34.5 cm, Musée du Louvre in Paris