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3.22 Annotated documentation of medals and coins

erstellt von Kulawik Veröffentlicht 05.06.2019 20:47, zuletzt verändert: 05.06.2019 20:47

Another important source in regard to architecture and its historical as well as other contexts are medals and coins:

Non è dubbio, che per le medaglie s’è conservata la memoria di molti huomini, e di molte usanze, e che in quelle vi sono varie cose di bella dottrina, cosi ne le Greche, come ne le Romane. Onde con ogni diligenza si fará una opera de le medaglie, distinguendole per li tempi, e per i luoghi, e per le qualitá de gli huomini, dichiarando a pieno la persona e l’occasion di far la medaglia, e di piu il rivercio con tutte le cose, ch’appartenesseno a qualche bella, o riposta dottrina [Tolomei 1547, 84r].

There is no doubt that through the medals the memory of many men is preserved, and of many usages, and that in these there are different things of great knowledge, in the Greek as well as in the Roman ones. Therefore, with all diligence, a work on medals will be made, distinguinshing them by time and place and quality of the men (depicted), explaining the person and the occasion to mint this medal, and in addition also the reverse of all things that belong to such a beautiful and hidden doctrine.

Before Jacopo Strada left Lyon for Rome in 1553, he had printed his «Bildnisvitenbuch» about Roman emperors and their families and used coins for his depictions in Latin and France = [Strada 1553.1] and went immediately to Rome when the book was printed. In Lyon he had also bought Sebastiano Serlio’s preparatory material for Serlio’s seventh book of his architectural treatise (published for the first time in 1575 by Strada = [Serlio 1575]) and collaborated with Guillaume Du Choul.12

But before 1550, Strada had already started a project titled Magnum ac Novum Opus, which was to contain all medals and coins from antiquity up to the present (through the early modern emperors of the Holy Roman Empire). Every coin was drawn on a large scale of almost one palmo (ca. 22 cm) in diameter on a single folio sheet of good paper and accompanied by a detailed description. Twenty-nine of the original thirty volumes with about 12,000 drawings survive at the Forschungsbibliothek Gotha, Germany, and about 2,000 more drawings can be found in Vienna, Paris, London, and Prague.13 They are accompanied by two sets of eleven volumes each in Vienna and Prague containing descriptions of most of the coins and information about the collections, such as where Strada had seen various coins and which items were best preserved.

Though Strada’s numismatic drawings, together with their written explanations, were highly regarded in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (listed as the first item in the spectacular library of Fugger later sold to Count Albrecht V of Bavaria), since the eighteenth century they have been largely disregarded. The seemingly excessive details — far more than could be seen on the original coins — have led scholars to consider them Strada’s creations. However, some of his drawings of medals depicting Roman buildings are clearly based on recent surveys of these buildings done in the service of Tolomei’s Accademia. One remarkable instance is Strada’s drawing after a coin showing the Curia Iulia at the Forum Romanum, which is more accurate with regard to archaeological findings then most of its modern reconstructions.14 In addition, there are at least two printed books regarding coins and medals and stemming from members of Tolomei’s network: Sebastiano Erizzo’s Discorso sopra le medaglie antiche [Erizzo 1554] and Antonio Agostín’s Diáloghi or Discorsi [Agustín 1592.1] and [Agustín 1592.2], the concurrent Italian translations of his original Spanish Dialogos [Agustín 1587] — one of the most important early studies in numismatics and epigraphy.