Giovanni Francesco Barbarigo
This piece is a bronze matrix, created by the artist Giovanni Francesco Neidinger, for the obverse of a medal of Giovanni Francesco Barbarigo. From this, a wax model would be created of the design, and this wax model would then be used to create the mold necessary for casting the final medal. The same process would, of course, be performed for the reverse of the medal.
Giovanni Francesco Barbarigo (1658-1730) was born into a noble Venetian family. After a brief appointment as a young ambassador at the court of Louis XIV, he embarked on an ecclesiastical career. In 1698, he became primicerius of Saint Mark's Basilica in Venice, and was also appointed Bishop of Verona that year by Innocent XII. He was appointed Bishop of Brescia in 1714 by Clement XI, who also raised him to the cardinalate in 1719. His final post was as Bishop of Padua, appointed by Innocent XIII in 1723.
As he advanced in his career, Barbarigo had the notion to create a medallic history of the illustrious Barbarigo family, and Giovanni Francesco Neidinger was commissioned to create these medals. The medals would also be illustrated, along with descriptions of the lives of the various family members, in an elaborate book which he also commissioned. Titled Numismata virorum illustrium ex barbadica gente, this book was not completed until 1731, after Barbarigo's death, and was finally published in Padua in 1732.
The collection of the Museo Correr in Venice contains many items related to this series of medals. From their website: "The Museo Correr possesses not only various copies of the Numismata but also many of the original copper-plates for the illustrations and illuminated capitals, as well as almost all the medals and some of the original dies from which they were struck." Since these medals were cast, not struck, the "dies" which are referred to are bronze matrices similar to this piece, many of which are presented in Piero Voltolina's corpus of Venetian medals, La storia di Venezia attraverso le medaglie. This piece is also featured in that work, and is identified as being in the collection of the author.
Illustrated in Voltolina 1998, vol. 2 p. 573 (Piero Voltolina collection).
Artemide Aste XLIII, 6-7 June 2015, lot 734.
cf. Voltolina 1998, no. 1328