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Relief - Elizabeth of France (1545-1568)
  • Elizabeth of France (1545-1568)
    Abondio, Antonio, born 1538 - died 1591
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Elizabeth of France (1545-1568)

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Lombardy (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1565-1590 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

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

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Wax on glass

  • Credit Line:

    Salting Bequest.

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

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, and it may be from this period that the present work dates. The important early Kunstkammers and Cabinets of Curiosities were, however, founded in the region where Abondio worked, around Prague and Vienna, thus strongly linking it to these types of collection. 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. This object's attribution to Abondio therefore must make it amongst the earliest waxes to form part of such a collection.

Physical description

Coloured wax on glass. The queen is represented in profile to the right in half-length, holding a small dog in her right hand. She wears a white and gold dress with a high neck and ruff covered by a dark cloak and a necklace of seed-pearls. Her elaborately dressed hair is studded with seed-pearls; the headdress terminates at the back in two feathers. The relief is contained in a copper gilt locket, the front of which shows Cupid and Apollo with the serpent Python, and the back of which is engraved with a coat-of-arms (two lions upholding a mount surmounted by a crown) surrounded by strapwork.

Place of Origin

Lombardy (made)


ca. 1565-1590 (made)


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

Materials and Techniques

Wax on glass


Height: 11.4 cm overall, Width: 7.3 cm overall

Object history note

Formerly Spitzer collection, then Salting collection. Bequeathed to the V&A by Salting.

Descriptive line

Relief, wax on glass, portrait of a lady, by Antonio Abondio, Italy (Lombardy), about 1565-90

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

Penny, Nicholas. Catalogue of European sculpture in the Ashmolean Museum : 1540 to the present day. Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1992, p.190.
'Salting Bequest (A. 70 to A. 1029-1910) / Murray Bequest (A. 1030 to A. 1096-1910)'. In: List of Works of Art Acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum (Department of Architecture and Sculpture). London: Printed under the Authority of his Majesty's Stationery Office, by Eyre and Spottiswoode, Limited, East Harding Street, EC, pp. 84, 5
Pope-Hennessy, John. Catalogue of Italian Sculpture in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Volume II: Text. Sixteenth to Twentieth Century. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1964, pp. 557, 8


Wax; Glass; Pearls

Subjects depicted



Sculpture; Portraits; Royalty; Medallions


Sculpture Collection

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