"The portrait medal is one of the most important artistic inventions of the Renaissance and an essential part of the history of portraiture in western art. Inspired by ancient coins, medals were created primarily to commemorate individuals and events. Typically, the front (called the obverse) bears a portrait of an individual, and the back (or reverse) presents associated imagery and text, such as a heraldic device, personal allegory, emblem, or narrative scene. All kinds of artists produced medals — painters, printmakers, sculptors, and gold- and silversmiths. The art form flourished across Europe in the fifteenth through the nineteenth century. As it did, the making, form, and function of medals varied widely." - The Frick Collection
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