Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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Portrait medal of an Unknown Lady (obverse); A Kneeling Man with a Basket of Fruit, Cupid, and the Caduceus of Mercury (reverse)

Artist:
Giovanni Maria Pomedelli (Italian, Villafranca di Verona 1478–1537)
Date:
first quarter 16th century
Medium:
Bronze (copper alloy with a light brown patina under a worn reddish brown layer of wax or lacquer)
Dimensions:
Diam. 5.3 cm, wt. 54.18 g.
Classification:
Medals
Credit Line:
Robert Lehman Collection, 1975
Accession Number:
1975.1.1310
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 960
This portrait is typical of Pomedelli’s unassuming yet direct and sensitive manner. The inscription on the obverse, "F· B· ET· LONGIVS· VIVAT· SERVATA· FIDE" ("F. B. and may she live longer having kept her faith"), provides few clues as to the identity of the anonymous sitter.
On the reverse is an impresa amorosa, a rebus composed of several elements referring to love. A kneeling man holds a basket filled with fruit. Before him is the caduceus of Mercury (the staff entwined with two snakes), while to the right Cupid stands on a globe inscribed A SO (Amor Superat Omnia, or "Love conquers all"). The scene may refer to Psalm 128:3: "A good wife is compared to a fruitful vine." It has been suggested that since the caduceus was a symbol of the Gonzaga of Mantua, the sitter portrayed on the obvese may have belonged to that family.
Inscription: Inscribed on the obverse: F· B· ET· LONGIVS·
VIVAT· SERVATA· FIDE·; IOANNES MARIA·
POMEDELLVS· VERONE[n]SI[s]· F[ecit]·; inscribed on the
globe: A[mor] S[uperat] O[mnia]
J. P. Heseltine, London; Henry Oppenheimer, London; Oppenheimer sale, Christie’s, London, 28 July 1936, lot 164, including another medal to [ John Hunt, London]). Acquired by Robert Lehman through Hunt from the Oppenheimer sale.
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