FRANCESCO DAL PRATO
(b. 1512, Caravaggio, d. 1562, Firenze)
Francesco di Girolamo Ortensi, medallist, painter, sculptor, goldsmith and armourer, known as Francesco del Prato because his workshop faced the prato (meadow) of the Ognissanti in Florence. According to Vasari, he was a fine draftsman and had also learned to paint. Vasari described him as the best goldsmith of his time and mentioned that he had made a fine medal of Alessandro de' Medici, Duke of Florence (untraced), which was placed in the foundations of the gate at Faenza, and another, a struck piece, of Pope Clement VII (1529-30; Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence) with a reverse of Christ bound to a column for the flagellation, commemorating the Pope's imprisonment during the Sack of Rome (1527). He collaborated with Baccio Bandinelli, with whom he traveled to Charles V's coronation by Clement VII in Bologna in 1530 in order to obtain papal and Medici commissions.
His identity as a medallist, however, is precarious, as his work and that of Domenico de' Vetri have long been confused, and, since there are no signed medals, his oeuvre has not yet been established. Aside from the surviving Clement VII mentioned by Vasari, the only other medal generally attributed to him, another of Alessandro de' Medici (1534; National Gallery of Art, Washington, British Museum, London), exists in cast examples, although it was probably originally struck; the portrait is without distinction, and the reverse shows a figure of Peace setting fire to a pile of arms.