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center monogram, with laurel border: M A C R (possibly for a name, such as "Marc' Antonio CR...," or "C...Marini")[1]

Inscription Notes

[1] The Marin (in Venetian dialect), or Marini (in standard Italian), were a prominent Venetian noble family, and of course their surname offers the closest parallel to the marine iconography of this encircling frieze. A derivation of their name from this monogram requires (as is normal in such cases) reading the risers of the M as the letters I and construing a ligature of the A, with the vertical riser on the right, as an N. The large initial C might then refer to the given or Christian name of a member of that family (the shields of arms of whose various branches are emblazoned only with waves, thus offering no further clues to confirm this hypothesis). This epigraphy is very remarkably faithful to high imperial prototypes, as for example from the reigns of Trajan or Hadrian; it is also conspicuously precocious for this presumed date. It is also possible that the conceptual roots of this three-dimensional use of epigraphy may lie in the elaborated initials letters of contemporaneous Italian manuscript illuminations.


Gustave Dreyfus [1837-1914], Paris; his estate; purchased 1930 by (Duveen Brothers, Inc., London and New York); purchased 1945 by the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York; gift 1957 to NGA.


Bekker, Gerd. Europäische Plaketten und Medaillen vom 15. bis zum 18. Jahrhundert. Leipzig, 1998: 51.

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