Stemma, medallion

Stemma of King René of Anjou

ca. 1466-1478 (made)

Luca della Robbia

Diameter: 335.3 cm, Depth: 25 cm, Weight: 1143 kg Approximately

6740:7-1860 SCP

Stemma, or Shield of Arms, by Luca della Robbia, Florence, ca. 1466-1478

Circular relief in terracotta enamelled in white, yellow, green, blue, manganese-purple, brown and purplish black. The centre, which is deeply recessed, displays a shield bearing the arms: quarterly of five, three in chief and two in base, (1) Kingdom of Hungary (ancient), (2) Anjou-Naples, i.e. the arms of the Duchy of Anjou with a label for the Kingdom of Naples, (3) Kingdom of Jerusalem, (4) Duchy of Banjo, (5) Duchy of Bar. Over all, an escutcheon in pretence, for the Kingdom of Aragon. The shield is surmounted by a closed crowned helmet or, posed full face, from which rises the crest, a double fleur-de-lis or between two dragon wings. The helmet and shield are placed on an ermine-lined mantle of the arms of Anjou. Above the crest are the letters IR in tree trunk capitals. Below the shield are the insignia of the Order of the Crescent, a collar inscribed LOS : EN : CROISSANT : . Upon either side is a golden brazier issue manganese-purple flames. The base of the left-hand brazier is ornamented with the fiver crosslets of the Pazzi arms, and from the inner handles of both the braziers depends a band with the motto DARDANT DESIR. Round the green background runs a narrow bordure of manganese purple (used throughout for gules) figured with a fillet raguly argent. The border has recessed within it a wide garland of leaves and fruit-pine-cones, gourds, oranges, figs, grapes, and cucumbers - each on a branch tied with a white band.

This enormous roundel was made for Jacopo de’ Pazzi, councillor to René of Anjou, whose many titles included King of Naples and Duke of Anjou. René’s coat of arms appears in the centre. Pazzi displayed the stemma on the exterior of his family villa at Montughi to signify his royal favour and René’s visit there in 1442. The Pazzi crosslets on the foot of the left-hand brazier are small, while René’s arms, initials and motto (‘DARDENT DESIR’ or ‘burning desire’) are prominent. Jacopo de' Pazzi was in the service of the King and may have acted as agent for the commission of the Aix stemma from Luca della Robbia. It is possible that he then commissioned the present stemma (which includes the Pazzi crosslets) for his villa at Montughi, known as the "Loggia de Pazzi", from which it was eventually removed in the mid-nineteenth century. The stemma must have been made between 1466, when King René adopted these armorial bearings, and 1478, when the property of the family was confiscated following the Pazzi Conspiracy.

Another, slightly different, version existed on the west façade of the Palace of King René of Anjou at Aix-en-Provence (destroyed 1776-86) and a third variation of the design is preserved in a watercolour by François-Roger de Gaignières of about 1700 (Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale). Jacopo de' Pazzi was in the service of the King and may have acted as agent for the commission of the Aix stemma from Luca della Robbia. It is possible that he then commissioned the present stemma (which includes the Pazzi crosslets) for his villa at Montughi, known as the "Loggia de Pazzi", from which it was eventually removed in the mid-nineteenth century. The stemma must have been made between 1466, when King René adopted these armorial bearings, and 1478, when the property of the family was confiscated following the Pazzi Conspiracy. The stemma was acquired by the Victoria & Albert museum in 1861. Although unrecorded in contemporary documents, this enamelled terracotta relief is unanimously accepted as a work by Lucca della Robbia, executed for Jacopo de' Pazzi some time between 1466 and 1478. Measuring eleven feet in diameter, the monumental scale of the stemma was dictated by its original position, high on an outside wall of the villa.

Location: Medieval and Renaissance, room 50a, case WS

View this object on the V&A website