Pope Nicholas V (obverse), Nicholas V in the Ship "Eclesia" (reverse)

Accession Number

Pope Nicholas V (obverse), Nicholas V in the Ship "Eclesia" (reverse)

Andrea Guacioloti

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
cast bronze

3/8 in. x 3 1/16 in. x 2 15/16 in. ( 1 cm x 7.7 cm x 7.5 cm )

Credit Line
Museum Purchase

Label copy
March 28, 2009
This medal commemorating Pope Nicholas V (reigned 1447–1454) initiated a tradition at the Vatican of issuing papal medals, which continues today. The artist Pisanello first created medals about 1438 to honor notable individuals and their deeds, character, or social standing. Following the standards established by earlier medals, the front of this medal presents a profile portrait of Nicholas V with an identifying inscription around the border. The reverse represents the pontiff, with cross-staff in hand, confidently steering a boat labeled “Eclesia,” or “The Church.” This vignette embodies Nicholas V’s driving ambition to restore the pope as the sole head of the Catholic Church in the wake of formidable challenges to papal authority.

Subject matter
This medal commemorates Pope Nicholas V (r. 1447–1454), who appears in a profile portrait on the front (obverse) of the medal along with an identifying inscription. The reverse represents the pontiff, cross-staff in hand, confidently steering a boat labeled “Eclesia,” or “The Church.”

Physical Description
The obverse of this medal depicts a profile portrait of a man with a tonsure. The reverse represents a man holding a cross-staff piloting a boat labeled "Eclesia" along the gunwale. Both sides of the medal have inscriptions around the edge.

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type

Collection Area

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casting (process)
heads (animal components)
medallions (medals)

& Author Notes

Web Use Permitted

On display

UMMA Gallery Location ➜ AMH, 1st floor ➜ 102 (Richard and Rosann Noel Gallery)