Pope Alexander VII

Façade of Church of the Assumption

Bronze, 66 mm Ø, 93.08 g
Attributed to Gioacchino Francesco Travani, Regnal Year 7 (1662).
Obverse:  Bust of Alexander VII facing left, wearing tiara and decorative cope featuring a scene of the Annunciation. Around, ALEX · VII · PONT · OPT · MAX · (Alexander VII, Supreme Pontiff). Beneath the bust, · A · VII · (In His Third Year).
Reverse:  Frontal view of the Church of the Assumption. Above and around, BENE · FVNDATA · DOMVS · DOMINI · B · VIRGINI · (House of the Lord Well Founded to the Blessed Virgin). Below and around, ARICINORVM PATRONAE (Patron of Ariccia).

Foundation medal for the Church of the Assumption in Ariccia. Though unsigned, the piece has been traditionally attributed to Travani on the grounds of style due to similarity to several other cast pieces of Alexander VII from this time.

In late 1661, Gian Lorenzo Bernini began work on the design for a new church across from the ducal palace in Ariccia (which he would also renovate). The final design for the church is given on this foundation medal, though the two flanking loggias are not shown. Construction began in 1662, and was completed in time for Alexander to hold mass there on May 16, 1664, consecrating the new church.

This particular design is unlisted and unknown in any of the major collections, and is possibly unique. Medals are well known which are based on the same general design, though the details between this medal and those differ significantly. On the other medals, the regnal year of the pope is included in the large inscription around the edge on the obverse, and the area underneath the bust contains the date 1662 in Arabic numerals. Also, the scene on the cope shows Jesus carrying the cross, rather than the Annunciation. Turning to the reverse, the positioning of the inscriptions is slightly different. Above and around is BENE · FVNDATA · DOMVS · DOMINI , while below and around is B · VIRGINI · ARICINORVM · PATRONAE . This lower inscription is also on a scroll in the other version.


Numismatica Ars Classica 53, 7 November 2009, lot 634.


cf. Whitman and Varriano 1983, no. 98

cf. Miselli 2003, no. 592