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Overview

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.

Inscription

center right vertical: .L.BAP.

Provenance

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
1865
Musée Rétrospectif, Union Centrale des Beaux-Arts Appliqués à L'Industrie, Palais de l'Industrie, Paris, 1865, no. 1132.
1937
The Art of the Renaissance Craftsman, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1937, no. 51.
1939
Five Centuries of Realism, Toledo (Ohio) Museum of Art, 1939, booklet (no list of individual loans).
1978
Antiquity in the Renaissance, Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, Massachusetts, 1978, no. 81, repro.
1980
Beyond Nobility: Art for the Private Citizen in the Early Renaissance, Allentown Art Museum, Pennsylvania, 1980-1981, no. 47, repro. pl. 1
1985
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).
1994
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.
1994
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).
2006
L'Uomo del Rinascimento: Leon Battista Alberti e le arti a Firenze tra ragione e bellezza", Palazzo Strozzi, Florence, 2006, no. 10, repro.
2011
The Renaissance Portrait: From Donatello to Bellini, Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2011-2012, no. 60, repro.
2013
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.
Bibliography
1883
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.
1883
Ephrussi, Charles. "Les médailleurs de la Renaissance." L'Arte 34: 243-252, repro. 249.
1883
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.
1883
Perkins, Charles. Historical Handbook of Italian Sculpture. London, 1883: 402, no. 10.
1888
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.
1889
Müntz, Eugène. Histoire de l'art pendant la Renaissance. 3 vols. Paris, 1889-1895: 1(1889):461, repro.
1896
Venturi, Adolfo. Gentile da Fabriano e il Pisanello. Florence, 1896: 73, as by Pisanello.
1903
Fabriczy, Cornelius von. Medaillen der italienischen Renaissance/Italian Medals. Leipzig, 1903: 17, as sixteenth century.
1904
Fabriczy, Cornelius von. Italian Medals. Translated by Mrs. Gustavus W. Hamilton. London, 1904: 34, as sixteenth century.
1905
Hill, George Francis. Pisanello. London and New York, 1905: 192-193.
1907
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.
1908
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).
1912
Hill, George Francis. Portrait Medals of Italian Artists of the Renaissance. London, 1912: 29-31, no. 1, pl. 16.
1920
Hill, George Francis. Medals of the Renaissance. Oxford, 1920: 46, 184, pl. 6, fig. 1.
1923
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.
1925
Vaudoyer, Jean-Louis. “La collection Gustave Dreyfus.” L’Amour de l’Art 6, no. 7 (1925): 252, repro.
1929
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.
1930
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.
1931
Ricci, Seymour de. The Gustave Dreyfus Collection: Reliefs and Plaquettes. Oxford, 1931: 2, no. 1, pl. 1.
1949
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.
1951
Hartt, Frederick. 'Review: Charles Seymour Jr., Masterpieces of Sculpture from the National Gallery of Art." College Art Journal 10 (Winter 1951): 204.
1951
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.
1954
Grayson, C. "A Portrait of Leon Battista Alberti." The Burlington Magazine. 96, 615: 177, n.1.
1957
Shapley, Fern Rusk. Comparisons in Art: A Companion to the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. London, 1957 (reprinted 1959): pl. 56.
1958
Badt, Kurt. "Drei plastiche Arbeiten von Leone Battista Alberti." Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz 8, no. 2 (September 1958): 78-87, fig. 1.
1958
Wind, Edgar. Pagan Mysteries in the Renaissance. 1st ed. New Haven, 1958: 187-188.
1960
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.
1961
Seymour, Charles. Art Treasures for America: An Anthology of Paintings & Sculpture in the Samuel H. Kress Collection. London, 1961: 46, 207, pl. 40.
1965
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.
1966
Pope-Hennessy, John. The Portrait in the Renaissance. London and New York, 1966: 66-69, fig. 67.
1968
Wind, Edgar. Pagan Mysteries in the Renaissance. 2nd ed. London, 1968: 231–235.
1972
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.
1974
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).
1975
Lewis, Douglas. "Sculpture." In Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. New York, 1975: 620, 623, fig. 954.
1978
Middeldorf, Ulrich. "On the Dilettante Sculptor." Apollo 107 (1978): 310-322.
1981
Middeldorf, Ulrich. “On the Dilettante Sculptor.” In Raccolta di Scritti: That Is, Collected Writings. 3 vols. Florence, 1981: 3:173–202, esp. 184–186.
1983
Walker, John. Portraits: 5000 Years. New York, 1983: 98, fig. 107.
1983
Wilson, Carolyn C. Renaissance Small Bronze Sculpture and Associated Decorative Arts at the National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1983: 12, repro. (and on cover).
1984
Walker, John. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Rev. ed. New York, 1984: 623, no. 961, repro.
1989
Pope-Hennessy, John. "The Study of Italian Plaquettes." In Italian Plaquettes. Studies in the History of Art 22 (1989): 19, fig. 1.
1990
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.
1991
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).
1992
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.
1992
National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 283, repro.
1992
Severin, Ingrid. Baumeister und Architekten: Studien zur Darstellung eines Berufsstandes in Porträt und Bildnis. Berlin, 1992: 26-27, repro.
1993
Adams, Laurie Schneider. Art and Psychoanalysis. New York, 1993: 147-150, fig. 56.
1993
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.
1993
Hamerman, Nora. “Leonardo da Vinci and The Scientific Revolution of Renaissance Visual Arts.” Fidelio 2, 4 (winter 1993): 34 repro.
1994
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.
1995
Franklin, David. "The Currency of Fame. Portrait Medals of the Renaissance." Renaissance Studies 9, no. 3 (September 1995): 319.
1995
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.
1997
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.
1998
Pfisterer, Ulrich. "‘Soweit die Flügel meines Auges tragen’—Leon Battista Albertis Imprese und Selbstbildnis." Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz 42 (1998): 205-251.
1998
Tavernor, Robert. On Alberti and The Art of Building. New Haven, 1998: 2 fig. 1, 31-36, fig. 24.
1998
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.
1999
Beckett, Wendy. My Favorite Things: 75 Works of Art from Around the World. New York, 1999: 120, repro. 121.
2000
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.
2000
Bell, Julian. Five Hundred Self-Portraits. London, 2000: repro. 19.
2000
Grafton, Anthony. Leon Battista Alberti: Master Builder of the Italian Renaissance. New York, 2000: unpaginated front matter, frontispiece.
2000
National Gallery of Art Special Issue. Connaissance des Arts. Paris, 2000: repro. 58, 59, 61.
2000
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.
2001
Schneider Adams, Laurie. Italian Renaissance Art. Boulder, 2001: 144-46, fig. 7.2.
2001
Syson, Luke, and Dillian Gordon, eds. Pisanello: Painter to the Renaissance Court. Exh. cat. National Gallery, London, 2001: 112 fig. 3.28.
2003
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.
2005
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.
2006
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.
2006
Hartt, Frederick and David G. Wilkins. History of Italian Renaissance Art: Painting, Sculpture, Architecture. 6th ed. Upper Saddle River, 2006: 240, fig. 10.2.
2006
Levy, Alison. Re-membering Masculinity in Early Modern Florence: Widowed Bodies, Mourning, and Portraiture. Burlington, VT, 2006: 71, fig. 3.7.
2007
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.
2008
Pfisterer, Ulrich. Lysippus und seine Freunde: Liebesgaben und Gedächtnis im Rom der Renaissance, oder, Das erste Jahrhundert der Medaille. Berlin, 2008: 99, fig. 48.
2008
Woods-Marsden, Joanna. "El autorretrato del Renacimiento." In Falomir, Miguel, ed. El retrato del Renacimiento. Exh. cat. Prado, Madrid, 2008: 94-96, fig. 60.
2010
Gennaioli, Riccardo, ed. Pregio e bellezza: cammei e intagli dei Medici. Exh. cat. Palazzo Pitti, Museo degli Argenti, Florence. Livorno, 2010: 120, no. 33.
2010
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.
2011
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.
2011
Filippi, Elena. Umanesimo e Misura Viva: Dürer tra Cusano e Alberti. Verona, 2011: 160-163, fig. 153.
2011
Glover, Michael. "Great Works: Self-Portrait by Leon Battista Alberti." The Independent (9 September 2011).
2012
Fischer, Günther. Leon Battista Alberti: Sein Leben und seine Architekturtheorie. Darmstadt, 2012: 45-47, fig. 8.
2012
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.
2014
Hall, James. The Self-Portrait: A Cultural History. London, 2014: repro. 45, 48-49.
2016
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).
2016
National Gallery of Art. Highlights from the National Gallery of Art, Washington. Washington, 2016: 45, repro.
2017
Dickerson III, C.D. "The Sculpture Collection: Shaping a Vision, Expanding a Legacy." National Gallery of Art Bulletin 56 (Spring 2017): 6, repro.