Pisanello: Portrait of Emperor Sigismund, 1431-33
Paris, Musée du Louvre
A particularly amusing example in this respect is the so-called Pageants of Richard Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, which can be studied in this 1908 edition. Completed in 1485, this manuscript is the only illustrated biography of a late medieval secular figure, and features the Earl's various encounters with rulers, including Sigismund. Pageant 35 (on page 138 of the Roxburghe Club facsimile) for example shows the Earl and Sigismund exchanging gifts, and Sigismund is depicted as a fairly young, beardless figure, with a fancy three-tiered crown (see below). More information on this manuscript is available on the website of the British Library.
|The visit of Sigismund to England|
The Beauchamp Pageants, 1485
London, British Library
I went through a lot of effort to gather such images for the 2006 Sigismund exhibition and its catalogue, but no doubt several manuscripts escaped my attention. I would like to mention just one of these, which is currently on view at the Getty Center's exhibition on Fashion in the Middle Ages. The book is a French manuscript from around 1460-1470, containing the popular Tale of Two Lovers by Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini (a story he wrote in 1444, obviously before he became Pope Pius II). The story of the two adulterous lovers is set in Siena, at the time of Emperor Sigismund's visit and lengthy stay there on his way to his imperial coronation in Rome (1432). The story is dedicated to Kaspar Schlick, imperial chancellor of Emperor Sigismund (and later of Emperor Frederick III), who is also the main character -
You can read an English translation of the entire story on this website; I am quoting the beginning of the story from there, too:
"The city of Siena, your native town and mine, did great honour to the Emperor Sigismund on his arrival, as is now well known; and a palace was made ready for him by the church of Saint Martha, on the road that leads to the narrow gate of sandstone. As Sigismund came hither, after the ceremonies, he met four married ladies, for birth and beauty, age and ornament, almost equal. All thought them goddesses rather than mortal women, and had they been only three, they might have seemed those whom Paris, we are told, saw in a dream. Now Sigismund, though advanced in years, was quick to passion; he took great pleasure in the company of women, and loved feminine caresses. Indeed he liked nothing better than the presence of great ladies. So when he saw these, he leaped from his horse, and they received him with outstretched hands. Then, turning to his companions, he said: ‘Have you ever seen women like these: For my part, I cannot say whether their faces are human or angelic. Surely they are from heaven.’"
|Emperor Sigismund arriving to Siena|
Illustration of The Tale of Two Lovers
Getty Museum, Ms. 68, fol. 25
Pinturicchio: Aeneas S. Piccolomini as ambassador to James I of Scotland
The image of the ruler is regarded as a disguised portrait of Sigismund
Siena, Duomo, Piccolomini Library