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Research Coins: Affiliated Auction

Sale: Nomos 5, Lot: 23. Estimate CHF75000. 
Closing Date: Monday, 24 October 2011. 
Sold For CHF70000. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

Spain/Italy. Charles V. 1519-1556. Medal (Silver, 75mm, 124.31 g 12), in honor of Isabella of Portugal (1503-1539), wife of Charles V, by Leone Leoni, circa 1549. DIVA ISABELLA AVGVSTA CAROLI V VX Bust of Isabella, three-quarter facing and turned slightly to left, wearing an elaborately embroidered gown, a pendant jewel and with her hair braided around the top of her head. Rev. HAS HABET ET SVPERAT (=she has these and surpasses them) At the center, the Three Graces standing in a circle, their arms around each other; the one on the left holding flowers above an amoretto who leaps up to them; the one on the right holds, together with the one at the center, a wreath of fruits; at her feet to right, another amoretto clutches her leg; at their feet, to left, an upturned vase from which water flows and, to right, a basket of fruit. Armand I, p. 168, 25. Attwood 28. Middeldorf/Stiebral LVI (this piece). Extremely rare. A very fine contemporary cast, very carefully made and nicely toned. Nearly extremely fine.

Ex Sotheby’s, 12 June 1974 (The Property of a Late Collector), 201.

This is one of Leoni’s great medals. Charles V commissioned it himself when Leoni was staying as his guest in Brussels in 1549. Despite Leoni’s reputation for violence and outrageous conduct, Charles V found him fascinating and spent a good deal of time watching him at work. Charles had greatly loved his wife Isabella, the mother of his heir Philip II, and their life seems to have been a happy one. Her early death in childbirth (the child also died) hit him very hard and he never remarried, dressing in black for the rest of his life. Charles commissioned a number of paintings and sculptures of Isabella, but this was the most important medal issued with her portrait, and it must have been one he greatly appreciated. It was preceded by a struck piece that was probably similar but is now lost and was based on a portrait by Titian. The ultimate prototype seems to have been another painting owned by Charles V, again now lost. In any case the emperor seems to have been very pleased by this medal and arranged for Leoni to make a cameo bearing the same portrait. The figures of the Three Graces were taken from an antique source, other examples are found on medals of the period by different artists, but their embellishment with amoretti was Leoni’s own.