The First Testone

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by ycon, Sep 19, 2018.

  1. ycon

    ycon Renaissance Man


    I've been doing more research on this coin and have learned some interesting information about it. I set out trying to learn about the attribution to Caradosso. He is mentioned as a medalist for the first time several decades after his death first by Vasari (1568) and by Lomazzo (1584), however there are no contemporaneous documents that link him with the production of medals or the mint of Milan. Because of this the traditional attribution of the sforza coins of the Milan mint has been called into question.

    There is however evidence that Caradosso worked at the mint of Rome. There is a letter from September 22, 1513, shortly after the death of Julius II and Ulrich Fugger--the head of the Fugger Bank and manager of the mint--between Caradosso and the Fuggers arguing about his continued role as head of the mint. This is the first known evidence actually linking him to the production of coins. According to the linked article by Clifford Brown, it follows that he must have had previous mint experience which presumably had to have occurred in Milan (where he spent the entire first part of his career). While by no means definitive it is still a tantalizing link.

    The second piece of information I've come across is much more concrete. The design for my coin was executed by the artist Zanetto Bugatto. I'd never heard of Bugatto before. Though he was highly regarded in his time, and was court painter to Galeazzo, almost none of his works survive with secure attributions. There is, however, an unusually large amount of documentary evidence about him. Besides his work as court painter he is known to have been one of two Italian artists to train with the incomparable Netherlandish master Rogier van Der Weyden, to have painted in Paris and seen the work of Jean Fouquet, and to have met Andrea Mantegna in Mantua. Additionally after his death Galeazzo sought the talent of Antonella da Messina as a comparable replacement. All this speaks to the presumably high talents of the artist.

    The most crucial surviving document--with regards to my coin--is an urgent letter to the duke from the year 1467 asking for the motto for a gold ducat being minted in his honor, to be designed by Bugatto in conjunction with the master of the mint and an unnamed engraver. There is only one coin with the matching legend, which is therefore his only confirmed work:

    AN00472459_001_l.jpg AN00032037_001_l.jpg AN00032038_001_l.jpg
    Ducat of Galeazzo Maria Sforza, designed by Zanetto Bugatto. Av. 1467. 22mm. British Museum.

    Look familiar? The design was reused on several of Galeazzo's later issues, including my coin and the mezzo-testone. Additionally, on the basis of the design it is possible to attribute a damaged but beautiful portrait of Galeazzo to Zanetto, which probably served as the source. This in turn can be used to begin to establish the nucleus of his small surviving oeuvre as a painter.

    As Luke Syson points out in the linked article, the design would have been highly veristic at the start of Galeazzo's reign, but as he aged (and as it was reissued unchanged on new coins) it would have functioned as a political cypher, rather than as a representational portrait.

    Galeazzo Maria Sforza, attributed to Zanetto Bugatto. Castello Sforzesco, Milan.

    I also learned that members of the Preda (Predis) family designed for the mint. This is known from documentary sources. It is possible to distnguish their contributions based on a signed miniature in the Wallace Collection by Cristoforo da Preda (brother of Leonardo da Vinci's famous pupil ambrogio da Predis). This portrait establishes a second official representation, parallel to the first, that can be seen in coins such as this Grosso.

    822px-Cristoforo_da_preda,_iniziale_A_con_galeazzo_maria_sforza_in_preghiera,_anni_1470.jpg Galeazzo Maria Sforza, Cristoforo da Preda (Predis). Miniature. 1470. Wallace Collection.

    Galeazzo Maria Sforza, 1466-1476. Grosso da 4 Soldi, Crippa 12. (Photo from acsearch via Künker, not my coin)
    Ryro, Pellinore, Multatuli and 4 others like this.
  2. Avatar

    Guest User Guest

    to hide this ad.
  3. TIF

    TIF Always learning. Supporter

    Impressive research, @ycon!
    ycon likes this.
  4. Multatuli

    Multatuli Homo numismaticus

    Well, I don’t have yet any milanese testones of this period. I was unlucky in all bids that I’ve done.
    But I have the first lira and unique venetian coin with a bust represented, contrary to Venetian law on the representation of doges in coins:

    ITALY, Venezia (Venice). Nicolò Tron. 1471-1473. AR Trono – 20 Soldi (27mm, 6.26 g, 3h). Bust left / Winged, nimbate lion standing left, holding Gospel; all within wreath. Papadopoli 5; Paolucci 2. Good Fine, toned, small ding and a number of faint scratches on obverse.
    Johndakerftw, ycon, Pellinore and 2 others like this.
  5. ycon

    ycon Renaissance Man

    That's a fantastic and important coin! I'd love to own one one day, though it's not a type I'm actively after at the moment.

    According to Aspetti artistici della monetazione italiana del Rinascimento by
    Andrea Saccocci, the dies were produced by Antonella di Pietro (called della Moneta) and his sons, as recorded in a document of July of 1472.
    Pellinore likes this.
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page