13 Dic 2014

Emblems of the Empire. Medal and coin symbolism in Charles V’s Milan


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Iconocrazia 06/2014 - "Special Issue", Saggi




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In the considered coins issued by the mint of Milan (considered more than tools for trading, as symbol of manifestation of the political authority) some medieval and late gothic stylistic element could still be found while some new elements are introduced and these will be the heritage brought in the age of Charles the Fifth.

Never in the entire production of the mint of Milan, the coins produced, as a sign of political self-celebration, not only witnessed but took a fundamental part in a historical as well political phase of contrasts, innovations and revolutions in a time crossed by political, social and artistic turmoil that were destined to change the historical development of Europe.

In the social and political contest that affected the north of Italy and the Duchy of Milan, one of the most interesting characters of the first half of the sixteenth century, Leone Leoni, lead a major part in the minting, not only for his technical skills but above all for the strong relationship with Carlo the fifth himself, who trusted him and held him in high regard.

The production of coins of the mint of the city, which had been reorganized and reshaped in 1476 by an act demanded by Galeazzo Maria Sforza, seems to be constant and ordered.

The Duke’s portrait appears in a high number of issues, made of gold such as Ducato and Doppio ducato, as well as the high value ones in silver such as Testone, Mezzo Testone, Grosso da Soldi 8 and Grosso da Soldi 5; while coins of lower value in silver or in mixture, present the most important and well know deeds of the Sforza or the initials GM that plays the same role of the portrait for higher value issues.

As for the deeds represented we frequently can find the Biscia Viscontea, the Tizzoni, the Dove, the Fascia; the latter is often followed by the French legend A bon Droit, as to lay the claim to the government of the duchy, a quite nagging theme in the policy of the Sforza.

The figure of Sant’Ambrogio starts to gain more and more importance and his representation begins to be considered almost as important as the ducal escutcheon, quartered with eagles and snakes, as it starts to be distinguished as the civic sema (or symbol?) The first representation of the saint to be used – in the Grosso da Soldi 8 – was a portrait of the saint riding a horse in the act of hitting the Aryans.

Other known representations would be largely used later: whip and crosier in hand, frontal, full length, half length as well as sitting.

It couldn’t be by chance that the figure of the armed knight was abandoned. Taken from the Viscontean production and symbol of the power of the city, adopted by father Francesco Sforza I for his Ducat, now ideally replaced by the Saint in the act of fighting, this new figure suggests continuity between the ducal families Visconti and Sforza and represent the new power of the city: no longer mainly based on military forces, the new power was richer of social and religious meanings.

The milanese mint doesn’t suffer any particular repercussion during the complex succession to Galeazzo Maria after his murder in 1476. His wife, Bona of Savoia, undertakes the regentship until their young son Giovanni Galeazzo Maria Sforza becomes the sixth duke in 1481. In the same year, the young duke’s brother, Ludovico Maria Sforza takes on as guardian and at last succeeds his brother as seventh duke in 1494.

However, in comparison to the previous age, the mint reduces coinages in terms of number of nominals produced. Coins of higher value are preferred to the lower value ones.

Portraits of the issuing authorities are alternated with the ducal escutcheon with eagles and snakes, or with some personal deeds or with the initials, on lower value issues.

The armed knight figure reappears on the R. of a golden issue, the period of Lodovico Maria, with the manifest intention of proposing an ideal continuity with the government of his father Francesco I, as it concerns the choice of figures represented on coins as well.

The first thirty years of the sixteenth century were troublesome for the Duchy of Milan from a political and social point of view, and in these years some of the hardest historical facts happened

From the battle of Marignano to the French defeat in Pavia, from the sack of Rome, which was particularly as obviously felt – to the beginning of the spreading of the Luteran Thesis.

All these facts are punctually registered by the figures represented on coins and these assume the role of fast catching and widely circulating vehicle of political propaganda as much and as much directly as it happened in the age of Galeazzo Maria and Ludovico Maria.

It is clear in this contest of extreme mutability of institutions that choices in the matter of iconology are more and more significant. We could consider, as an example, the French lilies, the Fleurs-de-Lys, symbol of the Transalpine kingdom, that were used as pattern in other representations such as deeds, or as sole representation especially for lower value issues in mixture that would highly circulate in all social classes of the population of the kingdom.

The portrait of the issuing authority was the classic iconographical theme for the golden Ducat and for the most valuable issues in silver. On the less valuable issues in silver, low silver and mixture, smaller in proportions as well, we do not find portraits as we do find more frequently personal deeds and linked symbols, often associated on the R. with the Saint Ambrogio, full or half length.

The iconological choices made by Massimiliano Sforza once back on throne after the French defeat in 1512, were totally different, and for this reason more significant, as they were particularly characterized by an essential iconoclasm.

Reduced in number, the choices of the duke for the lower issues. We find a total of six series, the most of all taken from the Sforza Tradition: The SEMPREVIVO – unyielding manifestation of the continuity of the dynasty of Sforza, the Viscontean Snake, the Dove, the letter M, in Gothic or in Latin graphic. Extremely interesting, as it must be noticed, the missing of the Saint Ambrogio figure not even in half length. This could mean a denial of the political power of the Duchy as independent from the Swiss authority, as the figure of the Saint was the figure of the city itself.

The age of Charles the Fifth

A certain vagueness in the political situation of the age must kept in mind while considering the whole picture. As a matter of fact, Charles the Fifth comes to throne in quite a complex way, extricating himself from the intrigues of Francesco II of Sforza and from the claims of the Kings of France, Francesco I and Enrico II. The following renouncement to command the Duchy, from the French and from the Empire, induced Charles the Fifth not to assume effectively the title of Dux Mediolani and to confer the ducal title to his son, that was to be Filippo the second in 1540, choosing to keep secret the investiture.

A close research on the production of the Mint of Milan must consider, not only the social historical and political situation of the Duchy in the years of Charles the Fifth and before him. It is fundamental to carry on a close investigation upon the activity of Leone Leoni in the mint, occured in two periods: from 1542 to 1545 and from 1550 to 1159.

Besides the originality in craft, it is pretty evident that the mint was following some guiding lines in order to transmit the Imperial image demanded by Charles the Fifth, and it is not by chance that most of the issues of the Ducat were produced in the second period of Charles’s government, that coincides with Leone Leoni’s time, in which time probably his political scheme was consolidating, thanks also to the solution, at least in part, of the French question.

The relevance of Leone Leoni’s figure

Leone Leoni, main figure on the side of the production of the Ducal Mint, was active in two periods: from the end of 1542 to 1559, interrupted by a brief journey to Venezia in 1544, and from 1550 to 1559. His work terminated after he gave a start to the issues in name to the successor of Carlo the fifth, his son Filippo the second, that were brought to conclusion by Jacopo Nizzola, also called “da Trezzo”.

Much could be said on the education of the figure of Leone Leoni, a long path of learning that touched different grounds, and, at a first sight, it could seem that this is enough material to comprehend the complex personality of the artist but, on the contrary, some gaps in his personal background prevent us to do so.

Therefore I’d rather focus on his activity in the sphere of the production of the Milanese mint in the age of Carlo V.

Even if not yet established the rule of including the board of issues into the history of coinage, thanks to the existing documentation – correspondences, in particular, between Magistrates of the Duchy and the chief of the mint – and the close numismatic researches upon the stylistic features of the imperial portraits and figures represented on coins, it is possible now to identify and put in chronological order all the issues produced by the Milanese mint from 1536, the Terlina, and 1552, , the Mezzo Scudo and the Quarto di Scudo.

The portrait, since it was first introduced into the monetary production in Italian Renaissance, quickly becomes the main symbol through which the Empire is manifested and through which its image and its values are vehiculated.The entire gallery of portraits represented on coins in the age of Carlo, have been undoubtedly produced by Leone Leoni, except for one case, the first portrait ever appeared, on Burigozzo in 1539, that was crafted by an anonymous engraver. It was Carlo’s half length figure. Carlo’s representation is not here, very close to reality and above all, he’s presented in modern armour. Clearly, a Germanic inspired engraving.

Leone Leoni’ skill as a engraver and his adequacy to the guiding lines of what was intended to be the image that had to be transmitted, highly contributed to the development of the mint in terms of iconography. The iconography of the time, however, has also to be seen as the result of a research through the confrontation with the ancient Rome representations, now adopted as a pattern to be closely followed, now reinvented in a much free way. Finally, the result of this research was a synthesis of both tendencies through which some anchor elements of the New Empire ideal were set and even though this tradition wasn’t followed by his successor Filippo II, it will keep on pervade the European production until replaced by a new Imperial experience, with Francesco I of Austria.

The monetary portraiture made by Leone Leoni can be divided in two distinguished periods of his career. In the first period, the style is much more articulated and more experimental, at the same time not yet fully mature. In the second period, however, from 1550, his style comes to maturity and a certain number of principles of portraiture are established. Above all, he achieved to find the right imperial icon able to transmit the ideal and the policy now redefined in the structure of the Empire.

The two terms of his activity are interrupted by brief absences during which Carlo’s portraiture was assigned to anonymous engravers.

We can find three portraits engraved by Leone Leoni and they might follow one another in this chronological order: firstly he achieved the Denaro da Soldi 25, between 1542 and 1544 before his journey to Venezia, marked stroke and light-shade effects – not suited in the monetary serial production – and a mantello on the right shoulder according a classic standard.

Once back from Venezia, the portraits on Da Soldi 16 and Denari 6 were completed, from which derives the signature, as for example on PACE e AMBROGIO. The composition is more adherent to principles in terms of morphology of coins: as an example a new figure of Carlo, less embossed, in which patterns and figures are simplified – yet not at all trivialized, will be inspiration for the anonymous engraver of Denaro da Soldi 10 in 1546.

The link found between this last issue and the Da Soldi 16 and Denari 6, suggest this possible chronological order between these and it seems likely that the anonymous engraver, called to substitute during Leone Leoni’s absence in 1546, would try to duplicate the last portrait and not the Denaro da Soldi 25 that consequently has to be considered precedent.

The work of Leone Leoni in his first stay in Milan, created different paths of style, upon which we are going to investigate, that gave results on the second and on the last terms of his activity, from 1550 to 1559.

The portrait on Denaro da Soldi 25(8) distinguish itself from the usual coinage system, on the side of iconology , and it creates a new path that, likely, wasn’t followed for a long time. Anyway, we have to consider this path as the extreme consequence of the research in iconology started previously and as linked to the tradition of medals, more than coins.

The Pietas (9) series, for instance, is one of those production that aroused controversies about his legal status. As for dimensions, weight and label it resembles a coin, on the other hand the engravings are typical of medals as also the variety of metals used, gold, silver, copper, bronze, lead and brass, in a such a sequence that doesn’t help in comprehending the chronological order.

At these two paths of research, Denaro da Soldi 25 and the Pietas series, that seem linked one to each other, we can associate, after 1545, two others portraits of Carlo V made by an anonymous engraver, or maybe more than one, that clearly follow the style of Leone Leoni. The anonymous portrait on Doppio Scudo in 1548, the most spread issue, seems to result from the half length figure in Denaro da Soldi 25, as well, the portrait on the first series of Quarto di Scudo, in 1549, is heavier and the anonymous artist seems to have been inspired by the physiognomy presented in the Pietas series, that could also be considered for Leone Leoni the starting point for the engraving of Scudo.

If the chronological order we have supposed is correct, then we should assert the existence of three different paths in the iconological research of the time. These paths might have picked up in the many anonymous coinages from 1545 to 1549, during Leoni’s absence.

More over, some contemporary documents attest 1545 as the correct issuing date of Da Soldi 16 and Denari 6, where we can find the third kind of portrait of Carlo V, Leone just back from Venezia, and this suggests that the first and the second kind of portrait of the emperor had to have been produced between 1542 and 1544.

As just mentioned, the second term of Leoni’s activity in the Mint begins in 1550 and ends in 1559. After 1552 there are not portraits of Carlo V, but in that same year we have Mezzo Scudo and Quarto di Scudo, in 1551 we can find the Scudo, considered the accomplishment of the research of Leoni.

Leoni’s research in iconology is divided into two distinguished phases in which the conception of how the authority should be portrayed is different, or best, antithetic.

In the first phase of this research, Carlo’s cast of features are not showed in full detail. It’s like if the time has been suspended because we can’t see any of the signs of time in his face. At the same time, his portrait is not that of a young man. Simply there’s no time.

This a typical definition of portrait of the Roman age.

In the Scudo, Leone found his way to represent the figure of authority and decided to, breaking away from the path so far followed, give to the portrait a sort of physical.

Carlo’s facial features are now represented in a more real way and the signs of time passing by on his face, wrinkles on his forehead, crow’s feet round his eyes, are no more omitted.

All these physical elements, Carlo’s neck slightly twisted or enlarged nostrils, give the portrait an older, more real and anguished expression. Here the Emperor is showed in his old age and no pattern and figures are introduced to appease the strength of this image.

The coins of the mint of Milan

Coinages are presented and described one by one in ascending order by time and, into age ranges, in ascending order by value. Imperial portraits allow us to put coins into order and, whether these are absent, some elements of style help us to find out their place in time.

Still, it has to be cleared whether all the coinaiges were produced merely as currency or if they could serve, in particular cases, as medals. I’m particularly referring to two coins/medals produced by Leoni, the PACE and the portraiture of AMBROGIO.

Indeed, at the time, the difference between Coins and Medals was subtle. The only way these were distinguished was weight, since currency of high value and precious metal, was determined by weight and not by official procedures.

Therefore, not without perplexities, these two have been classified as medals, because of their dimensions and weight and because of the signature Leo (never before appeared on coins and introduced at the end of 18th century but rarely used). Moreover, the style and shape of these two recalls the Pietas series and also, must be noticed, the use of several metals and this is unusual in coins.

On the other side, although not strictly currency, I’d rather include these two productions into the research upon Leoni’s style, as a fundamental part of his career in the mint.

The two medals, likely because of the strong relationship between Leoni and Carlo, have to be considered as a celebration of his authority and as an innovation into the production of the mint.

THE COINS

Fig. 1

AV Doppio Scudo 1548 – D: IMP CAES CAROLVS V AVG I R: PLVS VLTRA

The specimens were minted in 1548 for the visit of Charles V’s son, the future King Philip II.

The type 19b, without the imperial crown on the R., known in a single copy, might be the result of the erosion of the symbol, in order to produce a variant coin, while more interest is generated by the comparison between 19a and 19c, both types with the imperial crown on the R., although the second (19c) in known in a single copy. The two emissions are different for the robing of the laurelled bust of Charles V; in 19a, with paludamentum, while in 19c, with armor: if the date for the emission offered by coeval documents is correct, the type 19a, minted in 1548, can not be ascribed to Leone Leoni’s coin work, while the emission 19c might be considered a “subsequent” recoinage, perhaps the work of the cesarean engraver or, at least, inspired by his stylistic choices. In 19a Charles V’s profile, although of a sure hand and inspired to Leoni’s model of the Da Soldi 16 and Denari 6 (9), is corsivo, with a sort of impetus that unbalances it forward and the description of the notanti physiognomic characteristics is uncertain, with a tuft of hair on the forehead sloping over the final bay leaves of the crown; nevertheless, the depiction of the imperial beard, in ruffled locks and prominent mustache, slightly curved backwards to follow the line of the nasolabial fold, is what makes the portrait more original than the one supposed to be Leone Leoni’s pattern of the Da Soldi 16 and Denari 6 (9), and especially more than the Caesarean profile, coined a few years later, of the Scudo (22) of 1551: in other words, it is the composition of the beard, described in a single stage, triangular, the tip facing outwards, with locks and mustache wavy but not prominend and / or in rilief, what determines a caesural point that, in my opinion, suggests the direct activity of Leone Leoni, or of some emulator of his, operating within the mint of Milan.

The overall artistic investigation on Leone Leoni’s activity at the Mint of Milan seems to suggest a gap between the type 19a, dated 1548, and the type 19c, minter at a later time, starting from 1550 (?), when Leone Leoni, returning from his adventure at the papal coirt, served again at the Caesarean Mint of Milan. If the documents are reminiscent of the close link between the minting of 19a and visit the town of Philip in 1548, we have no reference to suggest a date for the coinage of 19c; we can only state, rather generically at some time since 1550, the need of further production of gold coins in Milan, for purely economic necessity and that the Mint meant to take the iconographic type already used a few years before, not slavishly, but giving uniformity to the model of the imperial portrait that Leone Leoni was elaborating, with the updating of the profile description, both ideological (the armor) and formal (the beard). The investigation is still in doubt as, to date, the type 19c is known in a single copy, an element that does not allow a circumstantial stylistic analysis in the absence of more coinages with the same subject.

The theme of the “old armor”, instead of the simple paludamentum or the medieval armor, is particularly important in the coins emissions of the Mint of Milan: the presence of the element, which -far from being a mere decorative device- must be interpreted in all its metaphorical and semantic value, in my opinion marks incontrovertibly the work of Leone Leoni at the Mint of Milan, as a sign of originality.

Fig. 2

AR Mezzo Scudo 1551-1552 – D: IMP CAES CAROLVS V AVG I R: CVIQ3 SVVM (oppure CVIQ3 SVVM 1552)

The first coinage of the Mezzo Scudo (24a), priva del millesimo (1552), produced in 1551 and lacking of the initial letter K(rolvs), in revised the following year, so that the documents state the new coins (24b) should have included the letter K and il millesimo (1552), producing, for the first time in the history of the mint of Milan, a specimen with an indication of the date, in parallel with the Quarto di Scudo (20).

The Mezzo Scudo was coined in reasonable amounts, with a number of variants (the position of the letter K, the beaded contour, etc.), with differing artistic results, in some cases fairly good engraved, others more corsivi and less well-refined even in the general morphological aspects, with a situation quite similar to the one mentioned for the coinage of the Quarto di Scudo (20b-d). It is usually possible to recognize, if not the direct intervention of the hand of Leone Leoni, conceivable only for the più felici coinages, al least the pattern followed in the picture on the D., that is the imperial bust depicted on the Scudo dei Titani (22). In fact, in every specimen, we can always distinguish the stylistic code of the portrait of Charles V set by the Caesarean engraver: thus code is characterized by the description of the details (even the tiniest), both physiognomic and descriptive, direct result of his experience as goldsmith, which give the imperial bust a detail by some considered excessive or affected, but that, on the contrary, might be understood as a voluntary adherence to the features of the subject to portray; lectio which was recognized by the critics primarily as “Roman”, as both Leone Leoni and Charles V clearly used to look at this ideal world to find models to reproduce, albeit in a critically non-accomplished way.

Charles V’s laurelled, armored portrait – with a depiction of the armor greatly simplified compared to the Scudo dei Titani (22) and shape more in accordance with Roman forms or, better, generically old – tightens the rather thick, short-lined structure of his neck, letting out his head slightly leaning forward; physiognomic characteristics, although slightly trivialized, are also present and, along the taste, the choice, of detail reveal the direct connection with the inspiring model: in addition to the wealth of ornamentation of the armor and the detailed description of the strands of the beard at one stage in relief on the center line, sharp-pointed, in the best conserved and finished examples are perfectly identifiable the wrinkles both on the forehead – as usual clear, as the hair is held under the end of the laurel crown – and the ones in the outer eye corner, which counterbalance the the nasolabial fold, typically shaped quite in relief even if inserted in a smooth portion of the cheek, which determines the shape of the whisker.

The iconographic theme chosen for the R. offers an interpretation both immediate and obvious, as the imperial eagle dominates and rules the quartered globe, with an undoubtedly vivid reference to the pride of the widespread geo-political power of Charles V, a key element of the imperial policy that was already expressed masterfully, by the coinages of the mint of Milan, with the representation of the COLUMNS/COLONNE of the Doppio Scudo (19) and the Quarto di Scudo (20), and is here emphasized by the legend, which was also used previously. The depiction can also be understood in a less explicit meaning, yet equally important, in my opinion: that’s to say how the ideal continuation of the “Roman” project – already undertaken during the first phase of Leone Leoni’s activity – found a complete outcome, also for the graphical aspects, with the emission of the Scudo dei Titani (22), inspired by the classicism that found fertile ground in the perception (that started from the Renaissance humanism) of the past: the eagle with spread wings, again in its realistic, not two-headed look, returns from the scene of the Olympus in the same posture, although here crowned with the Imperial mitre, holding in its talons both the winged lightning, feature/attribute that Jupiter was going to throw to the rebel Titans, and the olive branch, perhaps symbol of a planned, rather than occurred, universal peace.

In addition to the direct relationships with previous coinages, in my opinion this depiction lends itself to a symbolic interpretation more consistent with the Roman world, as I do not consider a mere coincidence that two of the most widespread Tiberian emissions, produced on behalf of the Divus Augustus Pater, depicted on the R. either an eagle with open wings over the globe or a winged lightning, as both themes are summarized and re-elaborated in the Mezzo Scudo, although the latter feature/attribute, the lightning, along with the olive branch, had already appeared in the Denaro da Soldi 5 (16).

Fig. 3

22 : AR Scudo (o Scudo da Soldi 110) 1551 –  D: IMP CAES CAROLVS V AVG I R: DISCITE IVSTITIAM MONITI

The most important medal produced by Leone Leoni was without any doubt “Discite Iustitiam Moniti”. We have here a medal version of a classic standard, which we can found in the fresco of Perin Del Vaga in the house of Andrea Doria, imperial admiral, in Genova and in a table of Emblemata Moralia, … of Lubbaeus Richardus as well. Of this emission we know the final realization, 22c, and two so-called “silver projects”: the type 22b, with an half-reduced weight, coined on thin sheet, without legend in R., with the same D. of 22c, and the type 22a, full-weighted, with reduced dimension (diameter of 40mm), a copy of which is known also uniface, coined with the same coin of D., in lead.

In the type 22a, the most ancient one, the scene is compressed by the frame of the legend and the space is divided between two elements, the group of Juppiter and the group of Titans, through an instrument of the coins and medals engravers art, that is the introduction of an line called esergale, on which the Mount Olympus is placed. The division between the two groups seems definitive and the visual effect is increased from the graphical compactness of the wounded and died bodies of Titans, in decomposed and unnatural positions, confused between rocks from which they would exit. The representation remembers a medal of 1549, even if Leone Leoni thought to subdivide the two groups clearly. The linear space occupied by the two scenes, the Mount Olympus and the group of Titans, both in a seed-spherical cap, is identical. The scene of Mount Olympus is represented with few elements: a seated Juppiter, nozzling its lightnings with a Hawk with opened wings – identical nucleus in all and the three emissions -; on the left there is Mercury (?) sdraiato and on the right there is a sdraiata feminine divinity; under them there is the group of three Titans, with the bodies scattered between the rocks. The roman imperial derivation has to be found in the design of Juppiter, than Leone Leoni drawn it like the Iuppiter Victor of the coined emissions of Hadrianus, seated of forehead, with the legs spread, even if in the Scudo he is in order to launch the lightnings.

In the type 22b, the group of Mount Olympus has a compact graphical aspect, with a semicircle shape. Between Mercury body (?) and Juppiter, there are two divine figures, and on the right, behind the back of the feminine divinity, two other figures, one perhaps armoured (Mars) and one feminine, naked (Venere). The general impression of the superior semicircle is of great compactness. The group of Titans, on the contrary, is not compact, even if increases their number from three to seven: there are no more rocks in the background, that contributed in 22a to separate the two scenes, and four new Titanium bodies are inserted.

The scene is immovable like a battlefield in the moment of the end of the combat, in which the bodies of the enemies represent the sign of the Victory. The composition indicates a moment in which the combat is still in phase of development, with the group of Titans “still dangerous”. Moreover Leone Leoni removes the description of rocks in order to isolate the bodies of Titans on the surface of the coin.

In the type 22c the engraver changes the scene. In the scene of Mount Olympus there is no more compactness: one single figure remains between Juppiter and Mercurio (?), with a decorative element engraved behind the head; on the right he removed the central armoured figure. Regarding the previous scene (22b), the engraver eliminates two bodies from the group of Titans, and their number decreases from seven to five, and in the centre he eliminates some bodies. The empty space between the elements is also cleaned up and polished, and are eliminated those few decorations (rocks) remained in 22b respect to 22a.

The scene that we have to imagine “definitive” seems to be a synthesis of the first type, 22a, in which Titans were not more in a position of attack, and of the second, 22b, in which the behaviour of Titans is still too much aggressive. We can try to interpret “politically” these changes of engraving, emphasizing three elements: 1) Juppiter/Charles V must seem isolated between the other divinities, which seems to have fear of him; 2) Titans must look just defeated without any hope; 3) there must be a great distance between Juppiter/Charles V and those who try to rebel against them (protestants princes).

It is very interesting to follow the red line of quotation in the symbolic propaganda of Charles the Fifth. It would be rather hard here even summarize the complexity of the souvreign communication strategy, but we can observe how the Emperor and his court had a code of symbols referring each other. We can observe it in this game of quotation between Charles the Fifth, Ferrante Gonzaga and Niccolò Madruzzo. The first two, are related by the symbol of Hercules and his labours; Charles and Niccolò Madruzzo are related by Juppiter against the giants, with motto “Discite Iustitiam Moniti” again.

Leone Leoni

Gioco di rimandi tra medaglie incise da Leone Leoni, tratto dal testo di Johannes Luckius, Sylloge Numismatum Elegantiorum..

After the departure of Leone Leoni his best pupil Jacopo Nizzola “da Trezzo” was charged to engrave the coins of Milan’s mint. He was, just like his master, the artist of the Emperor’s son, Philip the Second and prosecuted the political propaganda Leone Leoni started.

There is a set of medals based on classical standards which represents both the application of the political manifesto of Philip the Second and a clear evidence of the way in wich political relationships were used to work.

The first medal represent on the R. Philip the Second and on the V. his wife Mary Stuart, facing each other. But there is another medal, called “Iam illustrabit Omnia”, which shows on the R. the protrait of Philip but on the V. the souvreign in apollinean figure, according a well known classical standard of God Helios. And another medal, “Cecis visus timidis quies” which shows on the R. Mary Stuart and on the V. a goddess with peace and fertility attributes.

Jacopo da Trezzo

As you can see, all these coins, medals, engravure, emblems, and much more materials we have of this period, shows a complex political strathegy which served the necessity of the power to create consense using artistical manufacts. Esthetic communication as foundement for the power building: nothing is changed nowadays.

Giuseppe Cascione

Professore Associato di Filosofia Politica Università degli Studi di Bari Aldo Moro

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