CAVINO, Giovanni da
(b. 1500, Padova, d. 1570, Padova)


Italian medallist and goldsmith. His entire career seems to have been spent in Padua, where he benefited from rich traditions of sculpture, bronze-casting, classical studies and collecting. His artistic training appears to have been acquired in the workshop of Andrea Riccio, who named Cavino as one of the executors of his will.

Cavino worked in both bronze and gold and is documented as the author of a number of such ecclesiastical objects as candlesticks, censers and reliquaries; however, these works no longer exist. His fame derives in part from his having carved the dies for a series of struck pieces that imitated very closely ancient coins, particularly Roman sesterces. Such copies are now often found in cast versions, although many of the original dies are preserved in Paris (Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris). Although it is not known whether Cavino's intention was to deceive, his imitations were so cleverly made that even the modern collector must beware of them. According to Gorini, they were produced between 1520 and c. 1532. The pieces, which are in fairly high relief with crisp details and a nervous, linear style, are mostly composed of portraits of Roman emperors and members of their families. During this period and until c. 1565 Cavino also struck 34 portrait medals of contemporary Paduan notables.

Cavino's style is delicate and incisive, the portraiture distinctly individualized and sensitive, and the compositions balanced. Such portraits as those of Girolamo Cornaro, Giovanni Mels, Luca Salvioni and Cosimo Scapti (all National Gallery of Art, Washington) are particularly impressive. The lettering, however, is sometimes rather flimsy. The reverses, all based strongly on classical sources and often not logically connected with the obverses, are graceful.