Bronze medal of Julius II, probably by Cristoforo Caradosso Foppa

Cast bronze medal of Pope Juli

Diameter: 56.500 mm

CM George III, Papal Medals AE III 6

Michelangelo had a long association with the papacy. This began under Julius II (pope from 1503 to 1513), who was an enthusiastic patron of the arts and provided 100 cameral florins to pay for Michelangelo's return to Rome in 1505. A forceful leader, Julius personally led his army in campaigns that extended the papal state.

Julius and Michelangelo had a long and sometimes difficult relationship but Julius commissioned several of the artist's most important works. These included the Sistine ceiling and Julius's magnificent tomb in St Peter's - although the version actually built was a scaled-down version of the original plan.

The back of this medal shows St Peter's in Rome as planned by the architect Donato Bramante. Dissatisfied with the ancient basilica, Julius commissioned the new church and attended the inauguration of building work in 1506, when examples of this medal, thought to be by Cristoforo Caradosso Foppa, were placed in the foundations. Bramante's plans were not to be realised. Three decades later Michelangelo was to take over control of building work at St Peter's.

On display: Room 46: Europe 1400-1800