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Cardinal Francesco Gonzaga

  • Object:

    Medal

  • Place of origin:

    Italy (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1483 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Savelli, Sperandio (Sperandino) Sperandio of Mantua (medallist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Bronze

  • Museum number:

    6803-1860

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This bronze medal is made by Sperandino Savelli of Mantua in ca. 1483.

It depicts on the obverse a bust of Cardinal Francesco Gonzaga (1444-1483) and on the reverse an obelisk with a dog, armour and weapons.

Sperandino Savelli was a prolific medallist if an inferior imitator of Pisanello. He was born in Mantua but worked mainly in Ferrara. From 1478-1490, however, he worked at Bologna where Cardinal Francesco Gonzaga, who had been appointed Papal Legate there in 1471, was resident for long periods and eventually died.

Possibly the design refers to the uncertain outcome of the war with Venice over Ferrara. Cardinal Francesco had been sent from Bologna as the Pope's special Legate to Ferrara in the winter of 1482-83

Physical description

Medal depicts: Obv. bust of Francesco Gonzaga. Rev. an obelisk, with a dog, armour, and weapons. The reverse, which is inscribed Opvs. Sperandei. shows a lynx (?) sitting beside a pyramid labelled ENIGMATA and surrounded by pieces of martial equipment (a cuirass, shield, bow and arrows) also reflected in the sky.

Place of Origin

Italy (made)

Date

ca. 1483 (made)

Artist/maker

Savelli, Sperandio (Sperandino) Sperandio of Mantua (medallist)

Materials and Techniques

Bronze

Marks and inscriptions

Obv.: FRAN. GONZAGA. CAR[DINALIS]. MANT[VE]. LIBERALITATIS. AC. ROMANE. ECC[LES]IE. IVBAR.
splendour of liberality and of the Roman Church

Rev.: OPVS. SPERANDEI
shows a lynx (?) sitting beside a pyramid labelled ENIGMATA and surrounded by pieces of martial equipment

Dimensions

Diameter: 9.1 cm

Historical context note

Possibly the design refers to the uncertain outcome of the war with Venice over Ferrara. Cardinal Francesco had been sent from Bologna as the Pope's special Legate to Ferrara in the winter of 1482-83. A silver copy of this medal was owned by Gianfrancesco Gonzaga, the Cardinal's brother.

The pyramid has been related (by Gerola) to Marchese Ludovico's emblem of a pyramid-shaped diamond above a rocky island.

Descriptive line

Medal, bronze, bust of Cardinal Francesco Gonzaga, by Sperandio Savelli, Italy, ca. 1483

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

Inventory of Art Objects Acquired in the Year 1860. In: Inventory of the Objects in the Art Division of the Museum at South Kensington, Arranged According to the Dates of their Acquisition. Vol I. London: Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode for H.M.S.O., 1868, p. 26

Materials

Bronze

Subjects depicted

Arrow; Pyramid; Bow; Weapon; Obelisk; Dog; Shield; Armour

Categories

Coins & Medals; Portraits; Sculpture

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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