Etruscan mythology, £8.99
Diameter: 63.000 mm
George III Collection
CM George III, Swedish Medal 7
Room 46: Europe 1400-1800
Cast bronze medal of Christina, queen of Sweden by Massimiliano Soldani
Rome, Italy, AD 1681
A royal passion for medals
Queen Christina of Sweden (1626-89, reigned 1644-54) was a very colourful personality in seventeenth-century Rome, as a patron of the arts (she encouraged the sculptor Bernini and the composer Alessandro Scarlatti) and player on the political stage. She was brought up to be ruler of Sweden after the death of her father, Gustav II Adolf (Gustavus Adolphus, reigned 1611-32), when she was only six years old. Intellectually sharp and skilled in politics, one of her greatest achievements was in the agreement of the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, which ended the Thirty Years' War. Her reign was cut short by her desire to become a Catholic; she was forced to abdicate after only ten years, because Catholicism was banned in her own country. Pope Alexander VIII invited her to Rome, where Christina arrived to great fanfare in December 1655. She still behaved as a queen, involving herself in attempts to gain a new kingdom.
Christina had a large collection of ancient coins and gems and commissioned a remarkable thirty-seven medals of herself in her lifetime. She intended the Florentine medal maker Massimiliano Soldani (1656-1740) to make over one hundred medals for her, as a 'medallic history' of her life. Despite being scarred by smallpox and her possession of a deformed shoulder, Soldani shows her as a classical beauty, crowned with laurel, like a muse. The reverse shows the world, with a motto meaning 'I neither need it, nor is it enough for me'. This had been used on a smaller, earlier medal, and it refers to her devotion to the spiritual world over her place in politics.
T. Magnuson, Rome in the age of Bernini, 2 vols. (Stockholm, Almquist & Wiskell International, 1986)
F. Vannel and G. Toderi, La medaglia Barocca in Toscana (Florence, Studio per edizioni scelte, 1987)