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A humanist and polymath, Alberti in his treatises laid theoretical foundations for Renaissance painting, sculpture, and architecture. This relief is a milestone in the history of portraiture, and it is the earliest independent self-portrait. Fittingly, Alberti presented himself in classical guise: his hairstyle and loose garment knotted in front recall portraits of ancient Roman worthies, while the relief in oval format resembles a cameo on a larger scale. The winged eye hovering in the field is Alberti's personal emblem. It may refer to the all-seeing eye of God, to the primacy of the eye for human inquiry, and even to Egyptian hieroglyphics, which fascinated many humanists.


vertically along right edge, with terminal stops in the form of eyes, and with an intermediate stop possibly representing a pair of open wings: .L[EO].BAP[TISTA]. (Leon Battista, the artist's names)


Vicomte de Janzé, Paris; (his sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 16 April 1866, no. 41); Charles Timbal, Paris; Gustave Dreyfus [1837-1914], Paris; his estate; purchased 1930 by (Duveen Brothers, Inc., London and New York); purchased 1944 by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York; gift 1957 to NGA.

Exhibition History

Musée Rétrospectif, Union Centrale des Beaux-Arts Appliqués à L'Industrie, Palais de l'Industrie, Paris, 1865, no. 1132.
The Art of the Renaissance Craftsman, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1937, no. 51.
Five Centuries of Realism, Toledo (Ohio) Museum of Art, 1939, booklet (no list of individual loans).
Antiquity in the Renaissance, Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, Massachusetts, 1978, no. 81, repro.
Beyond Nobility: Art for the Private Citizen in the Early Renaissance, Allentown Art Museum, Pennsylvania, 1980-1981, no. 47, repro. pl. 1
Italian Renaissance Sculpture in the Time of Donatello, Detroit Institute of Arts; Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas; Forte Belvedere, Florence, Italy, 1985-1986, no. 48 (English catalogue), no. 82 (Italian catalogue), repros. (shown only in Detroit and Fort Worth).
The Currency of Fame: Portrait Medals of the Renaissance, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; The Frick Collection, New York; National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh, 1994-1995, no. 3, repro.
The Renaissance from Brunelleschi to Michelangelo: The Representation of Architecture. Palazzo Grassi, Venice; NGA, Washington, D.C.; Musée des Monuments Français, Paris; Altes Museum, Berlin, 1994-1996, no. 19, repro. (shown only in Berlin).
L'Uomo del Rinascimento: Leon Battista Alberti e le arti a Firenze tra ragione e bellezza", Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, 2006, no. 10, repro.
The Renaissance Portrait: From Donatello to Bellini, Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2011-2012, no. 60, repro.
La Primavera del Rinascimento: La Scultura e le Arti a Firenze 1400-1460, Palazzo Strozzi, Florence; Musée du Louvre, Paris, 2013-2014, no. III.9, repro.


Armand, Alfred. Les médailleurs italiens des quinzième et seizième siècles. 2nd ed. 3 vols. Paris, 1883-1887: 1:23, no. 28, as Attributed to Matteo de' Pasti.
Ephrussi, Charles. "Les médailleurs de la Renaissance." L'Arte 34: 243-252, repro. 249.
Hess, Aloïss. Les médailleurs de la Renaissance, 4: Léon-Baptiste Alberti, Matteo de'Pasti et Anonyme de Pandolphe IV Malatesta. Paris, 1883: 14, no. 1, pl. 1, as Attributed to Alberti.
Perkins, Charles. Historical Handbook of Italian Sculpture. London, 1883: 402, no. 10.
Michel, André. "Histoire de l'art pendant la Renaissance" (pre-publication review of vol. 1 of Eugène Müntz, Histoire de l'art pendant la Renaissance, 3 vols., Paris, 1889). Gazette des Beaux-Arts 38 (December 1888): 512, repro., erroneously described as in the Louvre's collection.
Müntz, Eugène. Histoire de l'art pendant la Renaissance. 3 vols. Paris, 1889-1895: 1(1889):461, repro.
Venturi, Adolfo. Gentile da Fabriano e il Pisanello. Florence, 1896: 73, as by Pisanello.
Fabriczy, Cornelius von. Medaillen der italienischen Renaissance/Italian Medals. Leipzig, 1903: 17, as sixteenth century.
Fabriczy, Cornelius von. Italian Medals. Translated by Mrs. Gustavus W. Hamilton. London, 1904: 34, as sixteenth century.
Hill, George Francis. Pisanello. London and New York, 1905: 192-193.
Suida, Wilhelm. "Alberti." In Thieme, Ulrich, and Felix Becker, eds. Allgemeines lexikon der bildenden künstler von der antike bis zur gegenwart. 37 vols. Leipzig, 1907-1950: 1(1907): 202.
Migeon, Gaston. "La collection de M. Gustave Dreyfus, V: Les plaquettes." Les Arts 80 (August 1908): 6, repro. 2, as Attributed to Vittore Pisano (Pisanello).
Hill, George Francis. Portrait Medals of Italian Artists of the Renaissance. London, 1912: 29-31, no. 1, pl. 16.
Hill, George Francis. Medals of the Renaissance. Oxford, 1920: 46, 184, pl. 6, fig. 1.
Habich, Georg. Die Medaillen der italienischen Renaissance. Stuttgart: 44-45, 151, pl. 12, fig. 1, as by Pisanello(?), erroneously described as in the Louvre's collection.
Vaudoyer, Jean-Louis. “La collection Gustave Dreyfus.” L’Amour de l’Art 6, no. 7 (1925): 252, repro.
Migeon, Gaston. "Gustave Dreyfus." Notice lue a l'Assemblée Générale Annuelle de la Sociéte des Amis du Louvre, le 5 Février 1929. Paris, 1929: 6.
Hill, George Francis. A Corpus of Italian Medals of the Renaissance before Cellini. 2 vols. London, 1930: 1:5-6, no. 16; 2:pl. 2.
Ricci, Seymour de. The Gustave Dreyfus Collection: Reliefs and Plaquettes. Oxford, 1931: 2, no. 1, pl. 1.
Seymour, Charles. Masterpieces of Sculpture from the National Gallery of Art. Washington and New York, 1949: 180, no. 38, pl. 121, as Leone Battista Alberti, Attributed to Alberti.
Hartt, Frederick. 'Review: Charles Seymour Jr., Masterpieces of Sculpture from the National Gallery of Art." College Art Journal 10 (Winter 1951): 204.
Renaissance Bronzes: Statuettes, Reliefs and Plaquettes, Medals and Coins from the Kress Collection. Introduction by Perry B. Cott. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1951: 141, repro. 51.
Grayson, C. "A Portrait of Leon Battista Alberti." The Burlington Magazine. 96, 615: 177, n.1.
Shapley, Fern Rusk. Comparisons in Art: A Companion to the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. London, 1957 (reprinted 1959): pl. 56.
Badt, Kurt. "Drei plastiche Arbeiten von Leone Battista Alberti." Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz 8, no. 2 (September 1958): 78-87, fig. 1.
Wind, Edgar. Pagan Mysteries in the Renaissance. 1st ed. New Haven, 1958: 187-188.
Watkins, Renée. "L.B. Alberti's Emblem, the Winged Eye, and His Name, Leo." Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz 9, nos. 3-4 (November 1960): 256-258, as c. 1438.
Walker, John, Guy Emerson, and Charles Seymour. Art Treasures for America: An Anthology of Paintings & Sculpture in the Samuel H. Kress Collection. London, 1961: 46, 207, pl. 40.
Pope-Hennessy, John W. Renaissance Bronzes from the Samuel H. Kress Collection: Reliefs, Plaquettes, Statuettes, Utensils and Mortars. London, 1965: 7-8, no. 1, fig. 1.
Pope-Hennessy, John. The Portrait in the Renaissance. London and New York, 1966: 66-69, fig. 67.
Wind, Edgar. Pagan Mysteries in the Renaissance. 2nd ed. London, 1968: 231–235.
Grayson, Cecil, editor and translator. On painting and on sculpture. The Latin texts of De pictura and De statua [by] Leon Battista Alberti. London, 1972: 154, no. 1, pl. 6.
Ames-Lewis, Francis. "A Portrait of Leon Battista Alberti by Uccello?." The Burlington Magazine 116, no. 851 (1974): 103-104, fig. 40 (reversed for comparison).
Lewis, Douglas. "Sculpture." In Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1975: 620, 623, fig. 954.
Middeldorf, Ulrich. "On the Dilettante Sculptor." Apollo 107 (1978): 310-322.
Middeldorf, Ulrich. “On the Dilettante Sculptor.” In Raccolta di Scritti: That Is, Collected Writings. 3 vols. Florence, 1981: 3:173–202, esp. 184–186.
Walker, John. Portraits: 5,000 Years. New York, 1983: 98, fig. 107.
Wilson, Carolyn C. Renaissance Small Bronze Sculpture and Associated Decorative Arts at the National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1983: 12, repro. (and on cover).
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 623, no. 961, repro.
Pope-Hennessy, John. "The Study of Italian Plaquettes." In Italian Plaquettes. Studies in the History of Art 22 (1989): 19, fig. 1.
Schneider, Laurie. "Leon Battista Alberti: Some Biographical Implications of the Winged Eye." The Art Bulletin 72, no. 2 (June 1990): 261, 264-266, fig. 2.
Mottola Molfino, Alessandra, and Mauro Natale, eds. Le muse e il principe: Arte di corte nel Rinascimento padano. 2 vols. Exh. cat. Museo Poldi Pezzoli, Milan. Modena, 1991: 1:27 (as perhaps made in or brought to Ferrara in 1438), 166, no. 39 (comparative note on Alberti medal by Matteo de' Pasti).
Fiero, Gloria K. On the Threshold of Modernity: The Renaissance and the Reformation. The Humanistic Tradition 3. 1st ed. [7th ed. 2015] Dubuque, Iowa, 1992: 29 fig. 16.3.
National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 283, repro.
Severin, Ingrid. Baumeister und Architekten: Studien zur Darstellung eines Berufsstandes in Porträt und Bildnis. Berlin, 1992: 26-27, repro.
Adams, Laurie Schneider. Art and Psychoanalysis. New York, 1993: 147-150, fig. 56.
Freedman, Luba. "The Counter-Portrait: The Quest for the Ideal in Italian Renaissance Portraiture." In Il ritratto e la memoria: Materiali 3. Eds. Augusto Gentili, Philippe Morel, and Claudia Cieri Via. Rome, 1993: 67-68, fig.1.
Hamerman, Nora. “Leonardo da Vinci and The Scientific Revolution of Renaissance Visual Arts.” Fidelio 2, 4 (winter 1993): 34 repro.
Syson, Luke. "Alberti e la ritrattistica." In Rykwert, Joseph and Anne Engel, eds. Leon Battista Alberti. Exh. cat. Palazzo del Tè, Mantua, 1994: 46, 48, fig. 2.
Franklin, David. "The Currency of Fame. Portrait Medals of the Renaissance." Renaissance Studies 9, no. 3 (September 1995): 319.
Oursel, Hervé, ed. La médaille en Europe du XVe au XVIIIe siècle. Exh. cat. Musée national de la Renaissance, Écouen, 1995: 12-13, fig. 5.
Gasparotto, Davide. "Pisanello e le origini della medaglia rinascimentale." In Pisanello. Exh. cat. Museo di Castelvecchio, Verona. Milan, 1996: 328, repro.
Canali, Ferruccio. “La Libreria Piccolomini a Siena e la Capella Brancacci a Firenze: Raffaello e un ipotetico ritratto dell’Alberti.” Bollettino della Società di Studi Fiorentini 1 (1997): 139, 142 fig. 1.
Pfisterer, Ulrich. "‘Soweit die Flügel meines Auges tragen’—Leon Battista Albertis Imprese und Selbstbildnis." Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz 42 (1998): 205-251.
Tavernor, Robert. On Alberti and The Art of Building. New Haven, 1998: 2 fig. 1, 31-36, fig. 24.
Woods-Marsden, Joanna. Renaissance Self-Portraiture: The Visual Construction of Identity and the Social Status of the Artist. New Haven & London, 1998: 71-77, 88, pl. 51.
Beckett, Wendy. My Favorite Things: 75 Works of Art from Around the World. New York, 1999: 120, repro. 121.
Bek, Lise. “Leon Battista Alberti og hans kunstteori: En renaissance-humanist.” In Alberti, Leon Battista. Om billedkunsten. Translated and edited by Lise Bek. Copenhagen, 2000: 142 fig. [43], 314.
Bell, Julian. Five Hundred Self-Portraits. London, 2000: repro. 19.
Grafton, Anthony. Leon Battista Alberti: Master Builder of the Italian Renaissance. New York, 2000: unpaginated front matter, frontispiece.
National Gallery of Art Special Issue. Connaissance des Arts. Paris, 2000: repro. 58, 59, 61.
Scher, Stephen. "An Introduction to the Renaissance Portrait Medal." In Scher, Stephen, ed. Perspectives on the Renaissance Medal. New York, 2000: 5, 23 fig. 1.11.
Schneider Adams, Laurie. Italian Renaissance Art. Boulder, 2001: 144-46, fig. 7.2.
Syson, Luke, and Dillian Gordon, eds. Pisanello: Painter to the Renaissance Court. Exh. cat. National Gallery, London, 2001: 112 fig. 3.28.
Gregori, Mina, ed. In the Light of Apollo: Italian Renaissance and Greece. 2 vols. Exh. cat. National Gallery and Alexandros Souzos Museum, Athens, 2003-2004: 1:71, 72 fig. 1, 151, 161, 162.
Paoli, Michel. “Les portraits de Leon Battista Alberti des XVe et XVIe siècles." In Cardini, Roberto, Lucia Bertolini, and Mariangela Regoliosi, eds. Leon Battista Alberti: la biblioteca di un umanista. Exh. cat. Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Florence, 2005: 84-87.
Fiore, Francesco Paolo. "Gli inizi." In Bulgarelli, Massimo, Arturo Calzona, Matteo Ceriana, and Francesco Paolo Fiore, eds. Leon Battista Alberti e l'architettura. Exh. cat. Casa del Mantegna, Mantua, 2006: 206 fig. 1.
Hartt, Frederick, and David G. Wilkins. History of Italian Renaissance Art: Painting, Sculpture, Architecture. 6th ed. Upper Saddle River, 2006: 240, fig. 10.2.
Levy, Alison. Re-membering Masculinity in Early Modern Florence: Widowed Bodies, Mourning, and Portraiture. Burlington, VT, 2006: 71, fig. 3.7.
Filippini, Cecilia. “Portrait and Self-Portrait: Some Thoughts on Humanitas in the 15th and 16th Centuries.” In Giusti, Giovanna and Maria Sframeli, eds. Artist’s Self-Portraits from the Uffizi. Exh. cat. Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, 2007: 48-53, repro. 48.
Pfisterer, Ulrich. Lysippus und seine Freunde: Liebesgaben und Gedächtnis im Rom der Renaissance, oder, Das erste Jahrhundert der Medaille. Berlin, 2008: 99, fig. 48.
Woods-Marsden, Joanna. "El autorretrato del Renacimiento." In Falomir, Miguel, ed. El retrato del Renacimiento. Exh. cat. Prado, Madrid, 2008: 94-96, fig. 60.
Bredekamp, Horst. Theorie des Bildakts. Frankfurter-Adorno-Vorlesungen, 2007. Berlin, 2010: 329, 330 fig. 201. New edition, Berlin, 2015: 321-324, fig. 197.
Gennaioli, Riccardo, ed. Pregio e bellezza: cammei e intagli dei Medici. Exh. cat. Palazzo Pitti, Museo degli Argenti, Florence. Livorno, 2010: 120, no. 33.
McLaughlin, Martin. "Leon Battista Alberti and the Redirection of Renaissance Humanism." Proceedings of the British Academy 167 (2010; Lecture read at the Academy 26 March 2009): 25-59, esp. 51-59, repro.
Alberti, Leon Battista. Das Standbild; Die Malkunst; Grundlagen der Malerei. Edited by Oskar Bätschmann, Christoph Schäublin, and Kristine Patz. 2nd ed. Darmstadt, 2011: 19 fig. 1.
Filippi, Elena. Umanesimo e Misura Viva: Dürer tra Cusano e Alberti. Verona, 2011: 160-163, fig. 153.
Glover, Michael. "Great Works: Self-Portrait by Leon Battista Alberti." The Independent (9 September 2011).
Fischer, Günther. Leon Battista Alberti: Sein Leben und seine Architekturtheorie. Darmstadt, 2012: 45-47, fig. 8.
Glass, Robert. "Filarete's Hilaritas: Claiming Authorship and Status on the Doors of St. Peter's." The Art Bulletin 94, 9 (December 2012): 566, fig. 28, note 87.
Richter, Elinor M. "Recasting the Role of the Italian Sculptor: Sculptors, Patrons, Materials, and Principles for the New Early Modern Age." In Bohn, Babette, and James Saslow, eds. A Companion to Renaissance and Baroque Art. Chichester, West Sussex, 2013: 219-220, repro. 220.
Aurenhammer, Hans. "Liberalitas: The Image of a Friendly Virtue as a Hidden Self-Portrait in Leon Battista Alberti's Della pittura." In Renaissance Love: Eros, Passion, and Friendship in Italian Art around 1500. Edited by Jeanette Kohl, Marianna Koos, and Adrian W.B. Randolph. Berlin, 2014: 149-162, esp. 155 fig. 3, 156.
Hall, James. The Self-Portrait: A Cultural History. London, 2014: repro. 45, 48-49.
Madersbacher, Lukas. "'fatto alla spera'? Das Porträt des Leon Battista Alberti aus den Orti Oricellari." Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz 58, no. 3 (2016): 320, 321 fig. 2.
Madersbach, Lukas. "'fatto alla spera'? Das Porträt des Leon Battista Alberti aus den Orti Oricellari." Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz 58, no. 3 (2016, published February 2017): 319-347, esp. 320-321, 321 fig. 2, 327, 328, 335 fig. 14a (detail).
National Gallery of Art. Highlights from the National Gallery of Art, Washington. Washington, 2016: 45, repro.
Dickerson III, C.D. "The Sculpture Collection: Shaping a Vision, Expanding a Legacy." National Gallery of Art Bulletin 56 (Spring 2017): 6, repro.
Malgouyres, Philippe. De Filarete à Riccio. Bronzes italiens de la Renaissance (1430-1550). La collection du musée du Louvre. Paris, 2020: 36-40, 38 fig. 8, 50.
Tsitrin, Lev. "The Perfect Pose." The MCA Advisory 23, no. 3 (Fall 2020): 20, repro., 21, 22

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