John Sallay forwarded these notes about paintings as inspiration for medal designs. He's hoping readers can help identify a painting which inspired a popular school medal design.
I was in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York a few weeks ago and stumbled on a painting by Andrea Sacchi (c.1599-1691) that I recognized as the design source for the 1750 medal by Richard Yeo for the Academy of Ancient Music. I vaguely recalled the Medallic Illustrations listing of the medal (MI 657/362), noting that the device was copied from a Sacchi picture, but wasn’t familiar with the painting or know that it was in an American museum.
Hawkins identifies this painting as “Apollo rewarding Merit and punishing Arrogance”, though the Met uses the title “Marcantonio Pasqualini (1614-1691) Crowned by Apollo”. Whatever one might think of Dick Johnson’s article in the current edition of the TAMS Journal on “art medals” versus “token medals”, I believe that most would agree this particular medal qualifies as an art medal!
So here’s my question: Does anyone know of a similar fine art or earlier numismatic source for the reverse device of this 1768 Royal Academy medal by Thomas Pingo, showing a youth with Athena who is pointing to a temple on a hilltop? This device was used on many school award medals from about this period onward, and I’ve been trying to find the original source for a while. Having stumbled on the design source of the Yeo medal, I suspect there is a similar source for this youth-with-Athena-pointing-to-temple design.
Both Laurence Brown (BHM 132) and Chris Eimer (Eimer 723, Eimer Pingo 42) identify the design for this Royal Academy medal as being by Giovanni Cipriani and Edward Penny. Their design would appear to be the for the specific execution, though, since a University of Leiden Stolp Prize medal from the 1750’s has a very similar design by Frans van Meiris, with Fides rather than Athena. There is an even earlier 1654 Dutch medal by Pieter van Abeele showing a young William III, where Athena is pointing to the heavens (God). A similar French medal showing Athena guiding a young King Louis XV is dated 1717, but I believe that medal was actually made more like 1770.
The Athena device originated in ancient times, of course, and there are countless seated and standing Athena/Minerva figures on both fine art and numismatic items going back to the Classical Age. But I’d appreciate help finding any earlier and possibly original inspiration for this youth-with-Athena-pointing-to-temple design used by the Royal Academy in 1768 and more broadly after that.
Can anyone help?
Wayne Homren, Editor
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