Domenico Fontana

Four Obelisks

Bronze, 40.6 mm Ø, 31.2 g
By Domenico Poggini, 1589.
Obverse:  Bust of Domenico Fontana facing right, bearded, wearing a doublet, ruff, and medal suspended from a chain. Around, DOMINIC · FONTANA CIV · RO · COM · PALAT · ET EQ · AVR : (Domenico Fontana, Roman Citizen, Count of the Palatine, Knight of the Aurelian).
Reverse:  Four obelisks, each surmounted by a cross. Around, IVSSV SIXTI · V · PON · O · M · EREXIT (He Erected Them By Order of the Most Excellent Pope Sixtus V). In exergue, 1589 .

Domenico Fontana (1543 - 1607) was an Italian architect who worked primarily in Rome. Employed by Pope Sixtus V as papal architect, he worked on the pope's renewal of the city. In 1586, he was tasked with the removal of the ancient Egyptian obelisk from the Vatican Hill and its subsequent erection in the St. Peter's Square. He published a detailed account of this feat, Della trasportatione dell'obelisco Vaticano et delle fabriche di nostro signore Papa Sisto V, in 1590. He would raise a further three obelisks in Rome: outside St. Mary Major Basilica in 1587, outside St. John Lateran Basilica in 1588, and in the Piazza del Popolo in 1589.


Morton & Eden 80, 13-14 June 2016, lot 50 (Sir Timothy Clifford collection).

Spink & Son, 21 May 1996, lot 161 (Sir Timothy Clifford collection, from Dr. Giuseppe Toderi of Florence).


Börner 1997, no. 619

Toderi and Vannel 2000, no. 1498

Attwood 2003, no. 825

Vannel and Toderi 2003, nos. 811-812