The identity of the sitter in Sandro Botticelli’s 1475 Portrait of a Young Man Holding a Medallion is hotly debated by art historians. Several candidates have been suggested, including Botticelli’s brother Antonio.
The young man’s head is turned slightly from us and he is dressed in middle-class clothing. He displays for us a gilded medal that depicts Cosimo de’ Medici as pater patriae or ‘father of the country, i.e. of Florence. The medal is exquisitely wrought but the attitude of the young man is ambiguous, both in his expression and in the turn of the head from the picture plane, making this an enigma of a painting.
Sandro Botticelli’s Portrait of a Young Man Holding a Medallion is housed in the Uffizi gallery in Florence, Italy.