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Reverse After Raphael

364, Lot: 353. Estimate $100.
Sold for $140. This amount does not include the buyer’s fee.

ITALY. Pompey the Great (106-48 BC). Æ Medal (28mm, 16.68 g, 5h). By Valerio Belli, circa 1520s-1530s(?). Draped bust of Pompey right / Six men, one carrying a spear, another a trident, surrounding a prostrate body. Attwood 389. VF, holed. Cast.

From the RBW Collection, purchased from Jan Lis, February 2011.

The bust in no way resembles ancient portaits of Pompey and looks much more like numismatic renderings of Serapis. Attwood (p. 223) explains that the unusual reverse: “ adapted from part of a design on an intaglio attributed to Belli, now in the Bibliothèque National, Paris (Kris, Steinschneidekunst, pl. 49, no. 213). This gem reproduces the grisaille scene of Alexander preserving the books of Homer by Raphael in the Stanza dell Segnatura, but is based on Raimondi’s print after Raphael (Bartsch, xxvi, p. 204, 207 [168]), in which the engraver has added a crest to the helmet of one of the surrounding figures, a detail that appears neither in Raphael’s fresco nor in his Ashmolean drawing related to it (see Gere & Turner, Drawings by Raphael, no. 112). In the medal the fallen figure replaces the case for the books of Homer. The inclusion of the man holding a trident suggests an allusion to gladiatorial contests and in particular to the lavish games given by Pompey.”