Jean de Lorraine

Prudence with a Dragon

Bronze, 52.0 mm Ø
Work of an unidentified Milanese artist, c. 1540s.
Obverse:  Bust of Jean de Lorraine facing right, wearing a biretta and gown. Around, within incised circles, IO · CAR · LOTHORINGIÆ (John, Cardinal of Lorraine).
Reverse:  Prudence walking to the right with a dragon at her feet. In her left hand is a mirror, and in her right hand is a pair of compasses. Around, within incised circles, SIC · ITVR / AD · ASTRA (Thus You Shall Go to the Stars).

Jean de Lorraine, born April 9, 1498, was a son of Duke René II of Lorraine. He served as bishop of Metz and archbishop of Narbonne and Reims. Jean de Lorraine was created cardinal of Sant'Onofrio in 1518 and became archbishop of Lyon in 1537. The cardinal was a patron of art and learning. Jean de Lorraine died on May 10, 1550, while returning to France from Italy after having participated in the Conclave following the death of Pope Paul III.

Though earlier attributed to Benvenuto Cellini, this medal has been more recently been assigned to an unidentified Milanese medalist. The reverse inscription comes from Virgil's Aeneid, IX:641, and the design means that Prudence leads to higher things.


A. H. Baldwin & Sons 81, 10 May 2013, lot 3425.


Toderi and Vannel 2000, no. 20

Attwood 2003, no. 96

Pollard 2007, no. 486