Portrait medal of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese (obverse); Il Gesù (reverse)
Giovanni V. Melon (Italian, active ca. 1570–90)
Bronze (Copper alloy with a warm
Diam. 4.7 cm, wt. 34.51 g.
Robert Lehman Collection, 1975
Not on view
At the age of fourteen, Alessandro Farnese was appointed Cardinal Deacon by his grandfather Pope Paul III. Amassing great wealth in the service of several popes, Farnese built or restored many monuments in and around Rome and assembled the greatest collection of Roman sculpture since antiquity. He was also a patron of living artists, notably El Greco, and his holdings included coins, medals, and drawings. The reverse depicts the facade of the Roman church, Il Gesù, a project financed by Farnese. Work began in 1568, but the façade was not completed until 1577, two years after the making of this medal. The medal also commemorates the Holy Year of 1575, during which the unfinished church played an important role in celebrations.
Inscription: Inscribed on the obverse: ALEXANDER CAR[d] FARN· S· R· E· VIC[e]CAN; inscribed on the truncation: IO. V. MILON.F.; inscribed on the reverse: FECIT ANNO SAL· MDLXXV ROMAE
Henry Oppenheimer, London; Oppenheimer
sale, Christie’s, London, 28 July 1936, lot 148, including
No. 110 (1975.1.1289), another medal, and a box formed of
two medals (to [ John Hunt, London]). Acquired by
Robert Lehman through Hunt from the Oppenheimer sale.