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The E-Sylum:  Volume 10, Number 52, December 23, 2007, Article 2

NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART PUBLISHES RENAISANCE MEDAL CATALOG

[Marilyn Reback of the American Numismatic Association 
forwarded the following item from the National Gallery 
of Art announcing a lecture and new publication cataloging 
Renaissance-era medals. -Editor]

The most important public collection of Renaissance-era 
medals in the United States resides at the National Gallery 
of Art in Washington, D.C., and is the focus of a new 
publication, Renaissance Medals. The first comprehensive 
catalogue of this collection is available as a two-volume 
set covering 957 medals acquired through 2003. Of these, 
163 are currently on view at the National Gallery of Art 
in the West Building ground floor sculpture galleries. 

The catalogue, compiled over more than twenty years, 
offers the most detailed art historical and scientific 
assessment of the collection available to date, including 
technical information such as the alloy composition of 
each medal. Volume one features Italian medals, including 
dozens of masterworks by Pisanello, who essentially invented 
the medium of portrait medals. Volume two focuses on French, 
German, Netherlandish, and English medals, including works 
by Guillaume Dupré, Albrecht Dürer, and Jacques Jonghelinck, 
and continues through the Baroque and later periods. 

The nucleus of the National Gallery of Art’s medal holdings 
is a 1957 gift from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. It also 
contains important gifts from the Joseph E. Widener (1942), 
and Leonard Baskin and Lisa Unger Baskin (1992–2006) 
collections. In addition, the National Gallery of Art has 
purchased many significant medals, especially of 15th-century 
work, including one recording the Pazzi conspiracy in Florence 
of 1476. A medal commemorating Lorenzo the Magnificent by 
Niccolò Fiorentino represents one of the last images of 
this important Italian statesman and founder of the Medici 
library. 

Some 163 medals are on view in the Gallery’s renovated 
sculpture galleries, which reopened in 2002. Medals are 
installed in classically detailed, freestanding wood and 
glass cases that allow visitors to see both sides of the 
object. 

This catalogue expands upon Renaissance Medals: from the 
Samuel H. Kress Collection at the National Gallery of Art, 
which was released in 1967. The one commonality between 
the two books is John Graham Pollard, who was co-author 
of both the 1967 catalogue with G.F. Hill, and the new 
catalogue with the assistance of National Gallery of Art 
associate curator of sculpture, Eleonora Luciano, and his 
wife, researcher Maria Pollard. 

After the introduction in each volume, medals are listed 
by country and era, and within that by schools and specific 
artists. In an appendix in volume one, Lisha Deming Glinsman 
and Lee-Ann Hayek explain their use of a non-invasive process 
called X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF) to determine 
the elemental compositions of medals. Their work makes a 
significant contribution to developing a database of 
Renaissance metal alloy compositions. Each volume provides 
an extensive bibliography, concordances, index of inscriptions, 
and a general index. 

Oxford University Press is distributing the volumes, which 
contain 1120 pages, 1745 duotones, and 66 color illustrations. 
The two volumes are available through the National Gallery 
of Art bookstore for $99 each by phone at (202) 842-6002 or 
(800) 697-9350.

To read the complete press release, see: 
Full Story 

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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To submit items for publication in The E-Sylum, write to the Editor 
at this address: whomren@coinlibrary.com

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