Etruscan terracotta sarcophagus, £24.00
Width: 156.000 mm
Height: 70.000 mm
Lent by Banca d'Italia
Coins and Medals
100,000 lire banknote
Italy, AD 1994
Fine art in miniature
There is a long tradition of reproducing works of art on a miniature scale on paper money. Details from paintings may create a distinctive design which helps the public to recognize notes, while also representing national culture. For example, German banknotes in the 1920s carried portraits of men based on paintings by masters such as Dürer and Holbein.
Modern banknotes often include portraits of national figures with scenes representing their lives and work. The extraordinary artistic heritage of Italy provides the theme for the country's highest-denomination notes, celebrating the work of Bernini, Caravaggio and Raphael. This 100,000 lire note features Caravaggio (lived around 1571-1610), with details of two of his paintings - The Fortune Teller (1594-95, Musée du Louvre, Paris) on the front, and the still-life Basket with Fruit (about 1598–1601, Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, Milan) on the back.
Guido Crapanzano, Soldi dItalia. Un secolo di ca, English edition (Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Parma, 1996)
J. Cribb, B. Cook and I. Carradice, The coin atlas (London and Sydney, Macdonald Illustrated, 1990)
A. Pick, N. Shafer and C.K. Bruce (eds.), Standard catalog of world pape (Iola, Wisconsin, annual publication)