Pope Alexander VIII

Wax on Slate, 74.5 mm Ø, 48.2 g
By Ferdinand de Saint-Urbain, c. 1700-1706.
Obverse:  Bust of Alexander VIII facing left, wearing cassock, cap, and a decorative stole. Around, ALEXANDER · VIII · OTTHOBONVS · VENETVS PONT MAX (Alexander VIII, Venetian Ottoboni, Supreme Pontiff).

A wax on slate model for the obverse of the tomb medal of Alexander VIII. Hinton provides insight into the use of wax models for struck medals of this time period. One method of using the wax models would be to take a cast of the wax, which could be followed when cutting the intaglio die. The second method would be to use the wax model as a guide for creating a positive puncheon. This puncheon could then be used to press the design into the die.

It would seem that this particular wax on slate model was used as a guide in creating a positive puncheon. Hinton notes that many wax on slate models would be too fragile to survive the casting process and also comments about the methods used in France, and it would seem probable that the French medallist Saint-Urbain would utilize this same method. He writes that the method employed by the French "was to create a simplified version of the design in relief on a steel puncheon ... Further elements of the design, details which might have been lost during the transmission from the puncheon could then be worked directly into the die." The crude figures on the stole and the lettering would seem to also back up the assertion that this model was used as a guide and not for casting, as these details would be added later directly to the die (e.g., using individual letter punches).

Provenance:

Morton & Eden 31, 11-12 June 2008, in lot 452 (Dr. Charles Avery collection).

References:

Miselli 2001, no. 287

cf. Hinton 2002