By Costanza Beltrami

Sculptor and medallist Pietro di Martino da Milano, also known as Pietro da Sormano, Petar Martinov and Pierre de Milan, is first mentioned in the documents of Milan Cathedral on 15 January 1430. The date of his birth and death are unknown, as are many other biographical details. The few surviving documents illuminating the artist’s life are scattered among several cities and countries: as suggested by the many versions of his name, he led a wandering life, working in Milan, Dubrovnik, France and possibly Venice before settling in Naples.

Pietro was probably a native of Sormano, a small village close to Como and Lecco on the Italian Lakes. He certainly trained as a sculptor on the worksite of the Duomo in Milan where he is first mentioned in 1430. In 1432 he is mentioned in Dubrovnik, where he was working on the Rector’s Palace. Shortly after, a master mason with his same name is mentioned in the accounts of the lavish Ca’ d’Oro Palace in Venice, although this may just be a case of homonymy. Further mentions of Pietro in Dubrovnik show that he completed several projects for fountains and other decorative stonework for the cathedral, local monasteries and private patrons. In 1452 Prince Alfonso of Aragon called Pietro to Naples, where he collaborated with Paolo Romano and Francesco Laurana on the decoration of the Triumphal Arch of the Castelnuovo. After Alfonso’s death in 1458, Pietro left Naples to join the court of René of Anjou in France. Here he designed several medals with the image of the King. In 1464 Pietro returned to Naples and spent the rest of his life working on the decoration of the Castelnuovo.

Reference: Renata Novak Klemenčič, ‘PIETRO di Martino da Milano,’ Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, vol. 83 (2015),

The Duomo of Milan, begun 1386 and completed in the 19th century. Source: Steffen Schmitz (Carschten) on Wikimedia Commons.

The Rector’s Palace in Dubrovnik, reconstructed from 1435 onwards. Source: Ragusino on Wikimedia Commons.

Ca’ d’Oro, Venice, begun 1421. Source: Didier Descouens on Wikimedia Commons.

Pietro di Martino da Milano, Medal representing Marguerite of Anjou, between 1458-1464, gilt bronze, 8.5 cm (diameter). Victoria and Albert Museum, London, inv. no. A.182-1910. Source: © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

The Triumphal Arch of Castelnuovo, Naples, completed 1470. Source: MM on Wikimedia Commons.

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