Sometime before 1499, Florentine sculptor Adriano di Giovanni de’ Maestri (1450/60-1499) produced a bronze medal that summarized Pontano’s intellectual legacy.1 On the recto of the item, underneath the nickname Iovianus, Pontano is portrayed as a grave and wise-looking old man, his head balding and marked by a scar, his mouth downturned in a gesture of spiteful pride. The medal belongs to a second phase in the history of Pontano’s portraits started in 1488 – a phase which, according to Barreto, was characterized by marked interest in ancient models and their monumental simplicity, as well as by a renewed iconographic freedom.2 At closer inspection, however, these features might also visually translate Pontano’s self-designation as Iovianus, the son of Jupiter, as gravity, wisdom, baldness and even the traces of an old injury create a striking correspondence with the effects Ptolemy ascribed to this planet in the third book of Tetrabiblos.3 An astrological allusion is further confirmed by the medal’s verso, on which a woman holding a sphere and a lyre, identified by the name of the Muse Urania, recalls on the one hand Pontano’s expertise in astrology, and on the other his masterpiece Urania, his most accomplished work and, as this chapter will demonstrate, the symbol of a legacy. As Patricia Emison has argued in a recent contribution, Quattrocento medals had the property of providing humanists with “a multiple homage to a single individual” by “emphasizing

when he is rising, makes his subjects in appearance light of skin, but in such a way as to have a good colour, with moderately curling hair and large eyes, tall, and commanding respect; in temperament they exceed in the hot and the moist. When Jupiter is setting, he makes his subjects light, to be sure, but not as before, in such a way as to give them a good colour, and with lank hair or even bald in front and on the crown, and of average stature; in temperament they have an excess of the moist”; 331: “For Jupiter generally causes the injuries to be concealed by human aid through riches and honours, and the diseases to be

both pictorially and epigraphically the linkage of likeness with issues of the soul and character.”4 Although in tune with the Quattrocento fashion for medal portraits, this item’s emphasis on astrology and poetry as the defining features of Pontano’s legacy was the puzzling result of unique historical circumstances, which the following chapter aims to unravel.