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Plaquette - An Allegory

An Allegory

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Italy (made)

  • Date:

    early 16th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Leoni, Leone (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This is a bronze plaquette made by Leone Leoni (1510-1592) in the early 16th century Italy. The plaquette represents an Allegory, in a composition of numerous figures.
Leone Leoni was an Italian sculptor with international perspective. Upon others he was commissioned by the Habsburg monarch Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and Spain's Philip II. It is probable that Leone's formative years were spent with learning goldsmithing in Venice or Padua. After 1533 he is recorded with his wife and son in Venice and he later lived in Rome. In 1542 he moved to Milan, where his career as a coiner and medallist flourished. He went to Brussels to propose to Charles V to erect an equestrian portrait to the emperor in Milan. Charles V gave him a house in Milan and knighted him. After that he spent seven years working on imperial commissions in Milan. The death of Charles V shifted his focus of patronage from Spain back to Italy, where Michelangelo recommended him to Pope Pius IV, who then commissioned him to erect a tomb for the Pope's brother Gian Giacomo de' Medici in the Milan Cathedral. Completed in 1563, this is one of his most important works. He was also well known for his art collection, plastercasts, paintings and sculpture.

Physical description

Plaquette in bronze. On the head of a draped female figure standing in the centre of a fountain is a vase with spouts in the form of dragon heads from which pour two streams of water. To the left in the foreground a man stoops to fill a vessel from the fountain, another holds a vase to catch the falling water, and a third, by whom is a child, drinks from a bowl; behind is a man holding a compass. To the right in the foreground a man drinks from the streaming water, another is holding a scroll, and a third stands behind with a vase. Above is the inscription "VIRTVS," and in the exergue "NVNQuam: DEFICIT" behind border.

Place of Origin

Italy (made)


early 16th century (made)


Leoni, Leone (artist)

Materials and Techniques


Marks and inscriptions


in the exergue


Diameter: 8 cm

Object history note

There is an electrotype copy of this medal (inv. no. 1857-87). It was bought from the Soulages collection in 1865.
The dealer John Webb was despatched to examine and report on the collection, which was purchased between 1859 and 1865 in installments for £11,000 with the assistance of 73 subscribers.

Descriptive line

Plaquette, bronze, an Allegory, by Leone Leoni, Italian, early 16th century

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Inventory of Art Objects acquired in the Year 1865. Inventory of the Objects in the Art Division of the Museum at South Kensington, arranged According to the Dates of their Acquisition. Vol. 1. London : Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode for H.M.S.O., 1868, p. 40
Robinson, John Charles. Catalogue of the Soulages Collection. London: Chapman & Hall, 1856, p. 150
p. 72
Maglagan, Eric. Catalogue of Italian Plaquettes. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1924



Subjects depicted

Bowl; Fountain; Man; Vase; Compass; Child; Scroll; Female figure


Sculpture; Coins & Medals; Myths & Legends


Sculpture Collection

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