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Mirror frame - Mirror frame in the form of the Medici ring

Mirror frame in the form of the Medici ring

  • Object:

    Mirror frame

  • Place of origin:

    Florence (made)

  • Date:

    1470-1480 (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Painted and gilded stucco in a gilt wood frame

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Medieval & Renaissance, Room 64, The Wolfson Gallery, case 6

This mirror frame in the form of the Medici ring is executed in the style of Antonio Pollaiuolo (1431/2 - 1498), made in Florence in ca. 1460-1465.

The frame takes the form of a ring set with a diamond, an insignia used by Piero de' Medici and later members of the family. At the base is Venus (left) and the Sleeping Mars (right). The figure of Mars is adapted from a classical sarcophagus of Endymion, who in rerun for perpetual youth was condemned to sleep forever.

Physical description

Circular relief, contained in a gilt wood frame in the form of the Medici ring, The figurated area occupies a wide circular strip in the interior of the ring, surrounding a vacant circular space with raised frame for the mirror. The lower part of the background consists of a landscape of grey-green rocks, the upper part of which is bisected by the mirror frame. Above is an area of dark blue sky. At the top three putti, that in the centre standing on the rocks, the other two on the mirror frame, support a shield (charge effaced). To the left of these figures a putto rides a goose, and to the right are two further putti, one of whom leads and the other of whom rides a dragon. At the base are reclining figures of (left) Venus crowned with a garland by a putto standing behind her and attended by two other putti, and (right) the sleeping Mars with an attendant putto who also holds the mirror frame. Both Venus and Mars represented nude. The figures throughout are painted naturalistically, and have gilded hair. Some of the putti wear painted scarlet, crimson and dark blue necklaces. There are extensive remains of gilding in the wings and hair of the putti, and traces of gilding appear on the goose and the dragon. The back of the mirror is painted to imitate porphyry.

Place of Origin

Florence (made)


1470-1480 (made)

Materials and Techniques

Painted and gilded stucco in a gilt wood frame


Height: 64.2 cm, Width: 50.8 cm, Depth: 5.5 cm

Object history note

Purchased in Florence.
The frame appears to have been a Medici commission as it takes the form of a ring used as an insignia by several members of the family. The figure of the Mars is adapted from a classical sarcophagus of Endymion, who was condemned to sleep forever by Jupiter in return for perpetual youth.

Descriptive line

Painted and gilt stucco mirror frame in the form of the "Medici Ring", made in the style of Antonio Pollaioulo, Florence, ca. 1460 - ca. 1465

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

Inventory of Art Objects Acquired in the Year 1859. 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. 37
Maclagan, Eric and Longhurst, Margaret H. Catalogue of Italian Sculpture. Text. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1932, p. 49
Pope-Hennessy, John. Catalogue of Italian Sculpture in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Volume I: Text. Eighth to Fifteenth Century. London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1964, p. 153, 154
Lee Rubin, Patricia and Wright, Alison. Renaissance Florence: The Art of 1470s. London: National Gallery, 1999, pp. 320-21


Stucco; Wood


Painting; Gilding

Subjects depicted

Figures; Lion; Ox; Goose; Shield; Sky; Dragon; Putti; Landscape; Garland; Rocks


Sculpture; Religion


Sculpture Collection

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