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Charles-Jean-François Chéron

French, 1635 - 1698

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Biography

Chéron was a son of Jean-Charles, a jeweler and die engraver employed by Duke Charles IV of Lorraine. Chéron worked in Rome between 1654 and 1675 and was influenced by and contributed to the remarkable revival of the large cast bronze medal that took place in Rome under the influence of Bernini. The painter Claude Lorraine recommended Chéron to Pope Innocent X, and he took up work under Gaspare Mola, papal die-cutter and medallist. Through the papal mint he met the Travani and Hamerani families, whose members were highly productive medallists to the papal court. Chéron was also a painter, and his medals portrayed several of the leading painters of the time in Rome. He made a self-portrait medal, a medal of Bernini, and medals of Carlo Maratta and Pietro da Cortona (representing opposing tendencies in contemporary Roman painting), Pierre Dupuis and Nicolas Coypel, director of the French Academy in Rome.

Chéron's work in Italy also included medals of popes Clement IX and Clement X, members of Roman society, Gaspare Altieri (Captain-General of the Church), Maffeo Barberini (unpublished medal in The British Museum), the Jesuit Prepositor General, J.P Oliva, and Cardinal Rospigliosi. Chéron contributed a struck medal to the elaborate series commissioned by Queen Christina of Sweden in Rome. Chéron made four medals of the Grand Duke Cosimo III of Tuscany and his wife and children, on the occasion of the grand duke's succession in 1670, and he also made a medal of the Spanish Viceroy of Naples, the Duke of Velada.

Chéron was recalled to France by the king in 1675 and appointed "Graveur ordinaire des médailles du Roy" in November 1679. He was granted lodgings in the Louvre and spent the rest of his career contributing to the Histoire métallique of Louis XIV, of which nineteen medals are given to him, with three different portrait busts. He continued in France to make large cast medals in his Roman style, including those of Charles Lebrun, 1676, as chancellor of the Paris Academy as well as of Lebrun's arch rival Pierre Mignard, dated 1689.

[Published in: John Graham Pollard. Renaissance Medals. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. 2 vols. Washington, 2007]

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