The Portland Vase, £5.00
Diameter: 39.000 mm
George III Collection
CM George III, Tuscan Medal 212
Room 46: Europe 1400-1800
Struck bronze medal of Cosimo I de' Medici by Domenico Poggini
Florence, AD 1561
The Uffizi: 'the most difficult and dangerous task I have ever'
Giorgio Vasari, painter and biographer of artists, designed and built the Galleria degli Uffizi from 1561 to his death in 1574. He wrote of the project: '... I devoted no small amount of time to the loggia and main building of the municipal building, the most difficult and dangerous task I have ever attempted, from its being practically on the river and almost in the air.'
Foundation medals, commemorating the 'building of the magistracy, decorated and enlarged for the public use', were prepared hurriedly after Vasari complained to Cosimo I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, in April 1561 that they were not ready. They were buried on 14 July that year. The figure of Justice on the reverse refers to that fact that the building was paid for by the thirteen principal magistracies of the state.
The maker of the medal, working probably to a reverse design provided by Vasari, was the goldsmith, poet and sculptor Domenico Poggini (1520-90), who first worked with his older brother Gianpaolo cutting dies for medals and coins at the Florentine mint. Domenico frequented the learned circles of the Florence Academy, and was making medals for Cosimo I by 1555, commemorating events of his rule.
R.A. Scorza, 'Imprese and medals: Invenzioni all'antica by Vincenzo Borghini', The Medal-7, 13 (Autumn 1988), pp. 18-32
J.G. Pollard, Italian Renaissance medals in (Florence, Associazione Amici del Bargello, 1985)