- Museum number
A sword-hilt, with the pommel in the form of a mountain surrounded by a spiral path leading to a temple
Pen and brown ink, over traces of black chalk
- Production date
Height: 231 millimetres
Width: 195 millimetres (irregularly cut)
- Curator's comments
- The Mount Olympus, as represented here, with the addition of the words "Fides" and "Olympus" (in Greek), was an impressa of Federico II Gonzaga, see exhib. cat. London, V.& A., 'Splendours of the Gonzaga', 1981-2, no. 152. Its precise meaning is unclear.
Lit.: G. Rebecchini, in G. Rebecchini and B. Furlotti eds, 'Giulio Romano: la forza delle cose', exh. cat., Mantua, 2022, pp. 174-5, no. 28.
Pouncey & Gere 1962
Mount Olympus represented as here, with the addition of the words 'Fides' above and 'Όλνμπος' below, was an impresa of Federico II Gonzaga. Hartt is wrong in saying ('Warburg Journal', xiii (1950), p. 153) that Charles V 'bestowed' it on Federico for his services in the Battle of Pavia in 1525; so also are Hill ('Corpus', no. 271) and J. Gelli ('Divise, motti e imprese di famiglie e personaggi italiani', Milan, 1928, no. 1337), who say that it was granted by the Emperor in 1523 in recognition of Federico's part in the defence of Pavia in 1522. Federico adopted the impresa on his accession in 1519 (cf. A. Portioli, 'La Zecca di Mantova', Mantua, 1879, p. 87), and the Emperor merely granted him the right of wearing it as a crest,* in augmentation to his arms, by the same letters patent, dated 8 April 1530, by which he raised the Marquisate of Mantua to a Duchy (printed by Portioli, op. cit., pp. 75 f.). Thus the presence of the impresa can only be evidence of a date not earlier than 1530 when it occurs as part of the Gonzaga arms. By itself it does not even establish a date of 1519 or later, since it is found on a coin of Federico's father ('Corpus Nummorum Italicorum', iv, p. 244, no. 85). See also T,11.71.
Literature: Hartt 117.
*The explicit wording "volumus ut in loco cimerii... gestare debeas" shows that the augmentation was intended as a crest. It is usually represented as such, surmounting the shield, though Federico, in the Garden Loggia of the Palazzo del Te, placed it in chief on the shield, like many Italian augmentations (cf. Hartt, op. cit., p. 154, fig. 1).
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1996/7 Dec-Mar, Vicenza, Palazzo Thiene, 'Valerio Belli Vicentino'
2022-2023, 8 Oct - 8 Jan, Mantua, Palazzo Te, Giulio Romano: l'arte de vivere
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number