(b. ca. 1452, Modonico, d. 1527, ?)

Medal of Julius II

c. 1506
Bronze, diameter 57 mm
National Gallery of Art, Washington

Caradosso was an Italian goldsmith, coin- and gem-engraver, jeweller, medallist and dealer. Vasari reported that he made portrait medals of Gian Giacomo Trivulzio, Julius II and Bramante, and this has provided the basis for all the additional attributions made by modern writers, although none of his coins or medals is documented.

Of the three medals of Julius II by Caradosso, the first one (shown here) has an obverse with the bust of the Pope to the right, wearing cope and orfrey, the reverse giving a view of Saint Peter's, Rome, according to Bramante's design.

The inscription on the obverse around circumference: IVLIVS LIGVR PAPA SECVNDVS MCCCCCVI. The inscription on the reverse around top circumference: TEMPLI PETRI INSTAVRACIO; around bottom circumference: VATICANVS M[ons].

A second medal with an identical reverse depicts the Pope on the obverse wearing a skull-cap and mozzetta. The same obverse of the first medal occurs on the third piece, but its reverse shows a shepherd seated under a tree.

Caradosso's portrait of Julius II characterizes the superhuman strength and energy of that formidable Pontiff. These medals at once proved very popular and became the standard portrait of Julius II and was imitated by other medallists.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.