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Images That Inspired The Mint Master

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 Posted 01/02/2019  9:23 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add tdziemia to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
So ... an apology to anyone who might take issue with Christian themes, but this is a collecting theme for me, and hence is a prism for a topic like this.

I will go to Baroque Florence under Duke Cosimo III 1670-1723 (just a bit later than the original post). The mintmaster is a young, talented Italian, Massimiliano Soldani Benzi. Before his appointment as mintmaster, he has travelled to Rome and Paris for his training.

Saint John the Baptist is the patron saint of Florence, so his image has featured prominently on coins like the florin from early medieval times. But to show their devotion, the Medici Grand Dukes of Tuscany began to feature new images of John's biblical life on large silver coins.

John's baptizing of Christ was a popular theme for Renaissance artists of the Florentine school. Pierra della Francesca, Ghirlandaio, and Verrochio (with his young student Leonardo da Vinci), had all created paintings of this subject over 100 years before the birth of Cosimo's mintmaster, so he had ample local material on which to draw.
Here is the most famous of these works, the Verrochio/DaVinci painting:


Here is the reverse of a 1 piastre coin of Cosimo III engraved under Soldani, showing the Baptism of Christ:


The general composition is the same as that of the Florentine depictions he would have known well, but one obvious difference is the position of Christs's hands. In paintings of the Florentine school, his hands are clasped in prayer. But on this coin, his arms are held across his chest. This posture is seen on painters of the Venetian school, like Tintoretto:

So, maybe Soldani was showing off a bit with his worldliness?







Edited by tdziemia
01/02/2019 9:41 pm
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 Posted 01/03/2019  06:00 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add 1c5d7n5m to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
great nice example tdziemia the issue of the position of the hands is interesting. What does the obverse side of the piastre show?
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 Posted 01/03/2019  1:08 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add 1c5d7n5m to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
@tdziemia: it is a good idea only to show the side of the coin/medal that is linked to the image; so ignore my previous comment.

Today I like to post the reverse side of another odd Nuremberg rechenpfennig, designed by the great Wolf Laufer II. What inspired him to make the die for this strange jeton ?



Mitchener, Jetons 1751-3
Nuremberg, Germany: Red copper rechenpfennig from Wolf Lauffer II
Reverse side: Turtle advancing to the right, with mast and sail mounted on its back
Legend - FESTINA LENTE ; below: WOLF LAVFER RECH:PE:

FESTINA LENTE is a classic adage that means something like "hurry slowly". The concept is of interest also today: not wasting time on the idle hand, but avoiding an ill-conceived decision on the impulsive hand.

The origin of FESTINA LENTEt is as old as antiquity: according to Suetonius the first Roman emperor Augustus, used the term to instruct his military commanders to take decision, but not rashly. During the middle ages, FESTINA LENTE was a popular motto of the European nobility, and it was used by official institutions (today still by the town of Venlo in the Netherlands and the abbey of Tongerlo in Belgium). Among the nobility was the Medici family in Florence. Because of its wide use, FESTINA LENTE was depicted in various forms such as crab and butterfly, hare and snail, anchor and dolphin and finally turtle and sail.

Below a turtle and sail FESTINA LENTE ceiling decoration in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence



FESTINA LENTE also appears in the Adagia of Erasmus of Rotterdam, and because of the earlier post of the eagle and beetle also mentioned by Erasmus, we may speculate that Wolf Laufer had read this book that was very popular in the 16th and early 17th century. But I am quite certain that Laufer was inspired for the turtle/sail image by another Emblem Book: Emblemata Politica that was published in Nuremberg in 1617, so not long before Laufer designed his jeton.

below is the FESTINA LENTE engraving by Peter Isselburg from this emblem book. The emblems from this book are open access:
http://emblematica.grainger.illinoi...isel/emblems



the turtle walks to the left, but the resemblance is striking
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 Posted 01/04/2019  8:42 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add tdziemia to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
1c5d, that image of the turtle with a sail is really fantastic. I've never seen this imaginative combination. And the "hurrying slowly" notion is something we 21st century humans could take to heart, at least in terms of technology (driverless vehicles? genetically engineered mammals?).

The connections you are finding are amazing and very specific. Unlike the religious themes, where there is a well-known legend and hundreds of years of iconography, and it is just a question of finding the most specific image.

And so ...

Saint Martin was a real person (not all saints were ) who was born in Roman Pannonia (c.316), and conscripted into the Roman army as a youth, before converting to Christianity. He somehow managed to resign from this profession without losing his life, and eventually became bishop of Tours (France), a position he held from 371 until his death of natural causes in 397 A.D. He is one of the earliest Christian saints who was not a martyr, and one of France's patron saints, though I don't think I have ever seen his image on a French coin.
He is also a patron saint of Lucca, Italy, (which built a fine cathedral dedicated to him in the 11th c.), and some German city-states.

His most popular legend involves his encountering a beggar along the road, and cutting his cloak in half with his sword so he could share it with the poor man, evoking Matthew 25:40. This legend was a popular theme in Christian art. Among others, it was painted by El Greco around 1600, Van Dyck a little later, and many others before and after.

Unlike both of those paintings, this one, from the cathedral in Tours, shows the saint in a Roman military uniform (In the El Greco, he is bareheaded, and in the Van Dyck he sports a fashionable cloth hat):


My Lucca scudo of 1756 has a similar composition, all the way down to the beggar's boots and the small plant growing next to them. I've not been able to attribute the Tours cathedral painting for an approximate date, and I have no idea if the Lucca mintmaster ever visited Tours. More likely, there is a painting I've not found which inspired both the painter in Tours, and the Lucca mintmaster.

Edited by tdziemia
01/04/2019 8:58 pm
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 Posted 01/05/2019  08:25 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add 1c5d7n5m to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
Lucca scudo of 1756


wonderful addition and great story, tdziemia
! thanks for sharing

The taler-sized silver pieces with St Martin and the beggar have several German like Bettlertaler (beggar thaler) or Kröpeltaler (cripple taler). They were not only minted in Lucca but also in Berg, Hornes, Mainz, Schwarzburg, and Schwyz.

The silver piece from the ±1565 minted by the count of Hornes (Philippe Montmorency) in the Netherlands is high on my wish-list. I hope to find nice example for a fair price.

this thread is still running it would be nice to see other examples
Edited by 1c5d7n5m
01/05/2019 08:26 am
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 Posted 01/05/2019  2:48 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add 1c5d7n5m to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
FESTINA LENTE is often pictured by turtle and sail to show the compromise between doing nothing and rashly acting without thinking. So why did I choose the Emblem book of Peter Isselburg in Nuremberg 1617 as the source of the jeton? The answer is the obverse side of the same jeton, picturing a young man, carrying a small cow or bull on his shoulder.



the legend says ASSIDVITATE ET TOLERANTIA (translated: "tenacity and endurance")

The description of jeton when I acquired it was "Hercules carrying the Cretan bull". The capture of the Cretan bull by Hercules is a famous story and one of his twelve labors
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cretan_Bull

But there is a problem: from ancient times till present this work is depicted as a fight between hero and monster, decided because Hercules grabs the two horns and forces the bull to the ground. Here are two examples spanning 2 millennia, one from a Spanish mosaic from the Roman time, and an engraving by B.Picart in 1731




The jeton from Laufer depicts something different: an animal that is either dead or willing to coöperate with its master. It seems like an exercise of balance, learned after many sessions of trial and error. The young man trained to lift the bull who learned to tolerate the strange posture. Looking back in the 1617 Nuremberg Emblem book, one cannot miss the emblem with the same image; the title is as the legend of the jeton: Assiduitate & tollerantia (with double ll).



Like the jeton, the engraving by Peter Isselburg shows a young man carrying a baby bull on his shoulder. There is no fight between man and animal. The head and legs of the baby bull are drawn exactly as Wolf Laufer designed the coin, but the man looks to the right and carries the bull on his left shoulder, the mirror of the representation on the jeton.

The short text° below the engraving further helps to explain what we should see. Andrew Schwenk (University of Illinois) comments the following:
"While the exact meaning of this image is a little unclear beyond being a depiction of a feat of strength, the early modern audience it was intended for would have understood it because of their familiarity with classic figures like Milo*. Its exact meaning is explained in the German° epigram which states that since Milo started carrying a calf when he was young, he was later able to carry the full-grown ox. The idea here is similar to sayings like "a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" and "the man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones." The parts of the emblem come together to impart the importance of persevering through difficult tasks and working diligently to hone one's skills."

notes:
° the epigram seems Latin to me rather than German
*Milo of Croton was a legendary 6th century BC wrestler.

https://publications.newberry.org/d...ng%20a%20cow

So for both sides of the jeton, we see the left-right inversion as compared to the emblems of Isselburg. But dies are mirror images from the jeton So it is clear that the emblems #5 and #6 of Emblemata Politica published in 1617 in Nuremberg were carefully studied for the design of this jeton.

Together, this is one of my favorite jetons from the 17th century with complete stories of wisdom on obverse and reverse.
Edited by 1c5d7n5m
01/05/2019 3:06 pm
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 Posted 01/07/2019  03:34 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add 1c5d7n5m to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
thanks jbuck

more examples would be wonderful !

in the mean time here is the link to the outstanding website about the 1617 Nuremberg Emblem book Emblemata Politica, which makes it more logic to understand what inspired Wolf Laufer

https://publications.newberry.org/d...litica/index

added in edit:

https://publications.newberry.org/d...-wing-ms-279
browse to page 130 and page 135
Edited by 1c5d7n5m
01/07/2019 04:12 am
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 Posted 01/07/2019  11:40 am  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add just carl to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
Highly informative and educational.
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 Posted 01/07/2019  5:15 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add 1c5d7n5m to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
thanks just carl !

The informative and educational website https://publications.newberry.org/d...litica/index from Mara R. Wade (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) and Lia Markey (Center for Renaissance Studies at the Newberry Library, Chicago) points to an additional piece of information about what may have inspired the mint master Wolf Laufer of Nuremberg.

The Großer Saal (Great Hall) in the Altes Rathaus (old city hall) of Nuremberg had a series of wall paintings so magnificent that only the Sistine chapel in Rome was comparable. Some of the most magnificent decorations ware from the master Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528), the centerpiece being the chariot of emperor Maximilian. In 1613 the Großer Saal was renovated so that additional 32 emblemata were painted into the window niches. The idea of using emblems in those days was to depict elements of wise and just government in miniature format, as simple as possible. Georg Rem, a citizen from Nuremberg wrote the epitaphs. Only four years after this addition, Peter Isselburg published his book, "Emblematica Politica" in order to present the "emblems of the the Großer Saal" to a broader audience. The Großer Saal was utterly destroyed at the end of WWII, when most buildings of old Nuremberg disappeared. Nothing of the original paintings from Dürer survives. But on basis of old color photo's it is still possible to have a look inside the hall before 1945 and admire FESTINA LENTE as Dürer painted it.



Source: https://digilib.zikg.eu/digilib.htm...490_0016&mo=

So we do not know for the last rechenpfennig of Wolf Laufer what inspired him most: the wall paintings in the splendid city hall of his own town or the emblem book of Isselburg published in the same town. My guess is that the publication of Isselburg book made Laufer decide to present the great works of Nuremberg to an even larger audience. I also believe that after this first emblemata jeton, Laufer studied other emblem books in order to get ideas for his rechenpfennig Icarus and the eagle/beetle, see start of this thread. But al this is pure guessing. But it is likely on the basis of sequence of events that the splendid art works of the Great Hall have stimulated other art in forms of engravings and copper or brass jetons.



old Nuremberg in the time of Dürer, source https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipe...remberga.png
Edited by 1c5d7n5m
01/07/2019 5:16 pm
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 Posted 01/08/2019  11:00 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add tdziemia to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply
The many Nuremberg connections for Festina Lente are really amazing (and I am very enamored of Durer).

I will go back to Florence, but with Nuremberg also as a possible inspiration.
According to Christian tradition, John the Baptist was imprisoned and then beheaded by Herod Antipas for condemning his marriage to the divorced wife of his half-brother. His execution is a common topic in CHristian art, but most depictions capture the moments after the beheading. In this lira of 1601, we see the executioner moments before:


There is a woodcut first published in Nuremberg in 1493 with a similar scene:


But perhaps more likely, this painting by Masaccio (died 1428), which hangs in Pisa, much closer to Florence:


Edited by tdziemia
01/08/2019 11:04 pm
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 Posted 01/09/2019  3:54 pm  Show Profile   Bookmark this reply Add 1c5d7n5m to your friends list Get a Link to this Reply

Quote:
lira of 1601
very interesting coin and image from the last minutes of the life of John the Baptist

I remember the 1601 silver piastre from Florence, also picturing John the Baptist, but during much a better day in his life

While the challenge now is to find an other example of an emblem inspiring a mint master (not from Nuremberg - it takes a bit of time ), I like to conclude the story of the emblemata that inspired Wolf Laufer II to produce his interesting Nuremberg jetons.

Below are some impressions from the past of the splendor of the Great Hall of the Altes Rathaus, with important work of Albrecht Dürer. The first image represents painting by Paul Juvenell made in 1622, i.e. the same period that Isselburg and Laufer were active.



The second image is a photo taken in 1907.. The chariot of emperor Maximilian is on the right side in both images, while the window niches with the emblemata are on the left. Source
https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gro%C...C3%BCrnberg)



Unfortunately, Nuremberg was the headquarters of the Nazi regime. During the end phase of WWII the fierce battle of Nuremberg (16-20 April 1945) destroyed most buildings of the old city, including the Great Hall and its emblemata politica. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battl...mberg_(1945)



But we still have the engravings of Peter Isselburg and the rechenpfennig of Wolf Laufer with motto and intriguing image ...



... so that we can wonder about what is trivial or important in daily life, in politics, justice and good governance.
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