Pope Alexander VII

Androcles and the Lion

Gilt Bronze, 97.8 mm Ø
Attributed Gioacchino Francesco Travani, 1659.
Obverse:  Bust of Alexander VII facing left with beard, wearing cassock, cap, and decorative stole. Around, ALEXANDER · VII · P · M · PIVS · IVST · OPT · SENEN · PATR · GENTE · CHRISIVS · MDCLIX .
Reverse:  Androcles standing left dressed in Roman armor, holding sword in his right hand and shield in his left. To the right, a lion crouches in submission. In the background, the arena filled with spectators. Above and around, MVNIFICO · PRINCIPI · DOMINICVS · IACOBATIVS , below, on scroll, ET · FERA · MEMOR · BENEFICII .

After the cessation of a plague in Rome in 1657, Domenico Jacobacci, a Roman nobleman and papal agent, commissioned a medal to be cast in appreciation of Alexander VII's role in bringing an early end to the plague. The reverse portrays the story of Androcles, a condemned slave spared from death by a lion who remembers Androcles as the person who had once pulled a thorn from his paw. This scene represents the thankful remembrance of Jacobacci and the whole Roman populace.

Though unsigned, the medal is attributed to Travani on the basis of style, relating to several similar large cast medals of Alexander VII. The medal's design has been attributed to Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

Provenance:

Fritz Rudolf Künker 282, 28 September 2016, lot 4424 (Luc Smolderen collection).

References:

Whitman and Varriano 1983, no. 79

Miselli 2003, no. 567

Vannel and Toderi 2005, nos. 504-505