Renaissance goldsmiths were often trained, not only as jeweller and goldsmith, but also as painter and sculptor. Allegorical designs were incorporated into decorative devices and used in many ways including as an enseigne, a type of badge worn on the hat or cap of a man of prominence. The charm of such an emblem is that its significance was only known to those already familiar with it. Biblical themes were popular, or a portrait, monogram or device of the wearer or his patron saint.
They were pinned on the underside of the rim of a turned up hat, or were sewn into a head dress. At a period where ‘melancholia’ affected brilliant minds, captured around 1542, this fine portrait is thought to be of scholar Count Fortunato Martinengo Cesaresco by Moretto de Brescia. He is resting his head on his hand, an expression of weary thought. He was known for wearing a hat badge inscribed in Greek translated as “Alas! yearn exceedingly!” Although perhaps pretentious, it is a fine portrait now in the National Gallery, London