Medal by Giovanni Battista Bonini (diameter 45.5 mm) View larger
Medal by Giovanni Battista Bonini (diameter 45.5 mm)
Bonini (Giovanni Battista), active 1557-1585

Portrait medal of the engineer Camillo Agrippa

Rome, c. 1585
Bronze, fine contemporary cast with dark brown patina (pierced at 12:00). 45.5 mm diameter.

Obverse Bust to right, a portrait of Camillo Agrippa, bearded, wearing a doublet and a mantle. Around, CAMILLVS. AGRIPPA . ANT. F. (Camillo Agrippa, son of Antonio); signed on the truncation, IO. BA. BO. F. Beaded border. Reverse An armed warrior pursuing Fortune and seizing her by the hair, a temple in the background. Around, VELIS [quatrefoil] NOLI SVE (Whether you wish it or not, taken from Seneca). Beaded border. The reverse is placed on the medal in an inverted position.

A portrait medal of Camillo Agrippa (circa 1535-circa 1595), engineer of the Acqua Vergine on the Pincio, celebrated for his participation in discussions about resiting the obelisks in Rome. The initials IO. BA. BO. F. beneath the portrait were identified by M.G. Milanesi with Giovanni Battista Bonini, active in Rome between 1557 and 1585, elected in 1576 Console and in 1579 Camerlengo of the Roman goldsmiths' guild.

Subjects
Artists, Italian - Medallic portraits - Agrippa, Camillo, c. 1535-after 1595
Medals - Artists, Italian - Bonini (Giovanni Battista), active 1557-1585
Authors/Creators
Bonini, Giovanni Battista, active 1557-1585
Artists/Illustrators
Agrippa, Camillo, c. 1535-after 1595
Bonini, Giovanni Battista, active 1557-1585
Owners
Löbbecke, Arthur, 1850-1932
Other names
Agrippa, Camillo, c. 1535-after 1595

Bonini, Giovanni Battista
fl. Rome 1557 – 1585

Portrait medal of the engineer Camillo Agrippa

Rome circa 1585

bronze, fine contemporary cast with dark brown patina. 45.5 mm diameter. Pierced at 12:00.

Obverse Bust to right, a portrait of Camillo Agrippa, bearded, wearing a doublet and a mantle. Around, camillvs. agrippa. ant. f. (Camillo Agrippa, son of Antonio); signed on the trun­cation, io. ba. bo. f. Beaded border.

Reverse An armed warrior pursuing Fortune and seizing her by the hair, a temple in the back­ground. Around, velis [quatrefoil] noli sve (Whether you wish it or not, taken from Seneca). Beaded border. The reverse is placed on the medal in an inverted position.

provenance [reputedly Franz Trau (1842–1905), Vienna — sale by Brüder Egger, Auctions-Catalog der Sammlung des Herrn Franz Trau in Wien. Münzen und Medaillen fast aller Länder, vorzüglich von Oesterreich, der geistlichen und weltlichen Herren, griechische und römische Münzen : Medaillen der Stadt Wien : italienische u. deutsche Kunstmedaillen, Vienna, 11 January 1904, p.68 lot 1300; link] — Arthur Löbbecke (1850–1932), Braunschweig — sale by Jacob Hirsch, Sammlung Arthur Löbbecke Braunschweig: Kunstmedaillen und Plaketten des xv. bis xvii. Jahrhunderts, Munich, 26 November 1908, p.13 lot 95 (‘Mm. 45. Oben kleines Loch. Vorzügliches Exemplar mit trefflicher dunkelbrauner Patina. — Aus Sammlung Trau’; link) — sale by Jacques Schulman, Catalogue des collections de Monsieur Arthur Löbbecke à Brunswick, de feu Monsieur L.M. Beels van Heemstede à Heemstede e.a. : médailles et plaquettes artistiques des xv–xviime siècles, Amsterdam, 17 June 1929, lot 87 — anony­mous consignor, Sotheby’s, Italian Renaissance medals, ancient, English and foreign coins, banknotes and bonds, London, 23 May 1988, lot 51

Ø 45.5 mm

A portrait medal of Camillo Agrippa (circa 1520–1600), engineer of the Acqua Vergine on the Pincio, celebrated for his participation in discussions about resiting the obelisks in Rome. He published on that subject a Trattato di trasportar la guglia in su la piazza di San Pietro (Rome 1583), and previously, a work on fen­cing, Trattato di scientia d’arme con un dialogo di filosofia (Rome 1553), as well as books on astro­nomy and navigation.1

The medal bears a profile portrait of Agrippa on obverse and on the reverse an emblem depicting a warrior with lance and shield seizing the forelock of Fortuna, naked and vulnerable; the motto, or lemma, reads ‘Velis nolisve’. The humanist poet Annibale Caro (1507–1566), who acts as interlocutor in Agrippa’s fencing treatise, possibly devised the impresa.2 The medal featured in Aby Warburg’s metaphoric encyclopaedia (‘Mnemosyne Atlas’, panel 48; image) and is cited in his publications.3

The initials io. ba. bo. f. beneath the portrait were identified by M.G. Milanesi with Giovanni Battista Bonini, active in Rome between 1557 and 1585, elected in 1576 Console and in 1579 Camerlengo of the Roman goldsmiths’ guild.4

Examples known to the writer include

● Berlin, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Münzkabinett (45.3/45.7 mm)5 ● Brescia, Musei civici d’arte e storia, Gabinetto Numismatico6 ● Florence, Museo Nazionale del Bargello (‘Qualità scadente’, 43.4 mm)7 ● Madrid, Museo Arqueológico Nacional (45 mm)8 ● Milan, Civiche Raccolte Numismatiche (two examples, both 44 mm)9 ● Naples, Museo e gallerie nazionali di Capodimonte, Inv. 134492 (44 mm)10 ● New York, American Numismatic Society, 1940.100.940 (45.2 mm; image) ● United Kingdom (five exam­ples, 43–45 mm, of which three are aftercasts)11 ● Venice, Museo Correr (45 mm)12 ● Weimar, Goethe-Nationalmuseum (44 mm, 45.91g)13

Copies seen in the market include

● Artemide Aste s.r.l., Asta xxiv, Dogana, Italy, 28–29 March 2009, lot 511 (€850) ● Morton & Eden, ‘Auction 42: Ancient, Islamic, British and World Coins, Renais­sance Med­als and Plaquettes’, London, 20 May 2010, lot 389 (‘a fine and early cast’, £200) ● Baldwin’s, ‘Auction 64: The Michael Hall Collection Medallic Portraits from the Renais­sance to the Nineteenth Century (Part One)’, London, 4 May 2010, lot 586 (aftercast)

references Pietro Antonio Gaetani, Museum Mazzu­chellianum (Venice 1761), i, p.382, Tabula lxxxv, no. 7; Alfred Armand, Les Médailleurs italians des xve et xvie siècles (Paris 1883–1887), i, p.282, iii, p.133; Robert J. Eidlitz, Medals and Medallions relating to Architects (New York 1927), p.2 no. 7 (reproduced plate 3); Giuseppe Toderi and Fiorenza Vannel, Le Medaglie italiane del xvi secolo (Florence 2000), ii, p.751 no. 2350

1. An analysis of Agrippa’s seven publications, together with a discussion of projects known only from archival records, is provided by Evelyn Lincoln, Brilliant discourse: pictures and readers in early modern Rome (New Haven 2014), pp.61–113 (chapter 3, ‘Camillo Agrippa’s Cosmology of Knowledge’).

2. Lincoln, op. cit., pp.106–108.

3. A. Warburg, Die Erneuerung der heidnischen Antike: Kulturwissenschaftliche Beiträge zur Geschichte der europäischen Renaissance (Leipzig 1932), p.365. Cf. Alfred Doren, ‘Fortuna im Mittelalter und in der Renaissance’ in Vorträge der Bibliothek Warburg 2 (1922–1923); Warburg’s correspondence with Doren and Friz Saxl, in Warburg Institute Archives, GC/12740, GC/14586 (transcriptions); Davide Stimilli, in Aut aut 321–322 (2004), pp.16-17; Marilena Caciorgna, ‘Minerva e la Fortuna. Virtus e Voluptas. Fonti, modelli e tradizione classica da Seneca a Pio ii ad Aby Warburg’ in Pio ii Piccolomini: il papa del Rinascimento a Siena: atti del convegno internazionale di studi, 5–7 maggio 2005, edited by Fabrizio Nevola (Siena 2009), pp.197–226 (example in Museo Nazionale del Bargello reproduced, p.198).

4. Armand, op. cit., iii, p.133; Costantino Bulgari, Argentieri, gemmari e orafi d’Italia. Parte prima (Rome 1958), i, pp.188–189.

5. Lore Börner, Die italienischen Medaillen der Renaissance und des Barock (1450 bis 1750), Bestandskataloge des Münzkabinetts Berlin (Berlin 1997), p.116 no. 464.

6. Prospero Rizzini, Illustrazione dei civici musei di Brescia. Medaglie (Brescia 1892), p.60 no. 395.

7. J. Graham Pollard, Italian Renaissance Medals in the Museo Nazionale of Bargello (Florence 1985), iii, p.1371 no. 799 (medallist’s initials not observed); Fiorenza Vannel and Giuseppe Toderi, Medaglie italiane del Museo Nazionale del Bargello. Volume ii: Secolo xvii (Florence 2005), pp.139–140 no. 1288 (medallist’s initials recorded).

8. Francisco Alvarez-Ossorio, Catálogo de las medallas de los siglos xv y xvi conservadas en el Museo Arqueológico Nacional (Madrid 1950), p.89 no. 306.

9. Cesare Johnson and Rodolfo Martini, Catalogo delle Medaglie, ii: Secolo xvi [in Civiche Raccolte Numismatiche, Milan] (Rome 1988), pp.92–93 nos. 899–900.

10. Michele Pannuti, ‘L’arte e la ritrattistica nelle medaglie della Collezione Farnese’ in La Collezione Farnese: Le arti decorative (Naples 1996), p.297 no. 8.141.

11. Philip Attwood, Italian Medals c. 1530–1600 in British public collections (London 2003), p.394 no. 964. The original casts are in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (45 mm, 47.61g), and British Museum (45 mm, 48.76g); for the latter, see C.F. Keary, A guide to the exhibition of Italian medals [in the British Museum] (second edition, London 1893), p.64 no. 214; Warburg Iconographic database (image).

12. Catalogo delle monete, medaglie, tessere, bolle e placchette esposte nel Museo Civico Correr (Venice 1898), p.52 no. 269 (as 1580).

13. Jochen Klauß, Die Medaillensammlung Goethes (Berlin 2000), p.57 no. 133.

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