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Medal - Mary, wife of the Emperor Maximilian II

Mary, wife of the Emperor Maximilian II

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Italy (made)
    Italy (made)

  • Date:

    1575 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Abondio, Antonio, born 1538 - died 1591 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:


  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This is a bronze medal made by Antonio Abondio (1538-1596) in Italy, dated 1575. It has only an obverse which represents Mary (1528-1603), the wife of the Emperor Maximilian II.
Abondio (1538-1596) and his teacher Leone Leoni were the only Italian medallists to be highly successful as court medallists north of the Alps. His eclectic style reflects Italian, German and Netherlandish sources. He was influenced by the Venetian Alessandro Vittoria and earlier by Alfonson Ruspagiari and the school of wax modellers and medallists centered on Reggio Emilia.
Abondio worked as a medallist and wax modeller in the Imperial court of the Holy Roman Empire in Prague and Vienna for most of his career. In 1571-2 he accompanied the Imperial Ambassador on a trip to Spain. Indeed, Abondio went on from the service of Maximillian II into that of Emperor Rudolph II upon his accession and Rudolph, interestingly, was among the most important early collectors of these type of curiosities and formed important collections at Prague, Dresden and Munich. Although Abondio is well-known as a medallist and court artist to the Holy Roman Emperors, he is generally accepted to be the first artist to work in wax in order to create a work of art from that material, rather than merely to use it as part of the sculptural process. He is therefore a key figure in the development of sculpting of wax, and in the history of portraiture. His development of the use of wax as a medium in its own right is also significant in its contribution to the formation of Kunstkammers and Cabinets of Curiosities. Wax was included in these collections because it was unusual and finely-worked.

Physical description

This medal is an obverse only, representing Mary, the wife of the Emperor Maximilian II., with a legend.

Place of Origin

Italy (made)
Italy (made)


1575 (made)


Abondio, Antonio, born 1538 - died 1591 (artist)

Materials and Techniques



Diameter: 5.71 cm

Object history note

There is an electrotype copy of this medal (inv. no. 1857-100). It was bought from the Soulages collection in 1865.

Descriptive line

Medal, bronze, bust of Mary, wife of the Emperor Maximilian II, by Antonio Abondio, Italian, dated 1575

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. 42
Robinson, John Charles. Catalogue of the Soulages Collection. London: Chapman & Hall, 1856, p. 154
Scher, Stephen K, The Currency of fame: portrait medals of the Renaissance, New York, National Gallery of Art (U.S.), Frick Collection., 1994



Subjects depicted



Coins & Medals; Portraits; Royalty


Sculpture Collection

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