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How Pisanello Did It

In response to:

They Clamor for Our Attention from the March 8, 2012 issue

To the Editors:

Andrew Butterfield’s appreciative and enthusiastic review of the exhibition “The Renaissance Portrait from Donatello to Bellini” [NYR, March 8] does contain one inaccuracy. After praising Pisanello’s wonderful portrait medals, Butterfield states that such medals were “minted in relatively large numbers.” Pisanello’s medals were cast, not struck; in the process the mold, made of sand, was destroyed. Each medal was individually cast. Not until around the turn of the century were medals struck from steel dies minted in relatively large numbers and distributed by the papacy. It was possible to strike large medals only when the technology advanced from hammer to screw press.

Raymond B. Waddington
Department of English
University of California, Davis
Davis, Calfornia

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