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Giovanni Candida

Italian, French school, before 1450 - c. 1499

Filangieri Candida, Giovanni; Filangieri, Giovanni di Salvatore

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Giovanni di Salvatore Filangier, of the Candida branch of a noble Neapolitan family, was probably born before 1450. He served the Anjou house in Naples and moved to Burgundy in the service of the Duke Charles the Bold (NGA 1957.14.817.a,b) in 1467 and was recorded as the duke’s secretary in 1472. He was to spend the rest of his career as a diplomat. He visited Venice in 1473, Rome in 1475, and Naples 1475-1476. A third mission took him again to Rome and to Milan in 1476. Following the death of Charles the Bold (1477), Candida returned to Burgundy. He was appointed secretary to the successors, Maximilian of Austria and Maria of Burgundy, and was sent on a fourth mission to Venice, Rome, and Naples in 1478. He unwisely complained about payments due to him for service and was consequently imprisoned by the emperor in Germany, released, and again imprisoned in Lille. He was acting again as secretary from March 1479.

Candida settled at the French court in July 1480 and was appointed ambassador to Rome in 1488. The pope made him an apostolic protonotary, and he was appointed as a royal councillor by 1491. He went again to Italy in 1493 and was a courtier of King Charles VIII during the invasion of Italy. Three manuscript histories by him have survived, including one vindicating Angevin claims in Italy. The latest documentary references to Candida are of 1495, and it is probable that he died in 1498/1499. Some medals dated 1504 are improbably attributed to him, however.[1]

There are three signed medals by Candida; of Charles the Bold of Burgundy and Maximilian of Austria, Antonio Gratiadei, and Jean de la Gruthuse and Jean Miette.[2] The medals are dated between 1475 and 1479. There is also one document that refers to the artist: a letter written to him on behalf of Robert Briçonnet (NGA 1957.14.822.a,b), archbishop of Rheims from 1493, by Guillaume de la Mere, secretary to the archbishop.[3] The letter addresses Candida as, "summo et oratori et historico ac sculptoriae artis atque plastices hac aetate omnium consummatissimo," (the greatest of orators and historians and the most skillful of all artists in the art of sculpture and modelling, in our age), and Briçonnet adds, "ternas epistolas tuas, figurae et imaginis nostrae sigillo impressas, atque argenteum nummisma recepimus, quibus nihil deficit praeter impressas, adeo me ad vivum effinxisti," (I received three of your letters which bear the seal impressions of our portrait and the silver medal, in which nothing is missing but the breath of life, so lifelike you have depicted me).

The medals by Candida are conventionally arranged in threel groups, as follows: the Burgundian works (NGA 1957.14.817.a,b-821.a,b); Italian works under the influence of Lysippus;[4] and Franco-Italian medals (1957.14.822.a,b, .824.a,b). A fourth group of French medals, influenced by court sculpture, was improbably given to the medalist (NGA 1957.14.823.a,b), two of which are now classed as anonymous French work (NGA 1957.14.825.a,b-.826.a,b).[5]

The NGA collection includes the unique portrait medal of Candida by Lysippus (NGA 1957.14.816).

[1] Remy Scheurer, “Giovanni Candida,” in Dizionario Biografico degli italiani, 57 vols. to date, Rome, 1960-present: 17(1974):776.

[2] George Francis Hill A Corpus of the Italian Medals of the Renaissance before Cellini, 2 vols., London, 1930: nos. 819-821.

[3] L. Delisle, "Le Médailleur Jean de Candida," Bibliothèque de l'École des Chârtes 51 (1890): 310-312; Henri de la Tour, "Jean de Candida," Revue Numismatique (1894): 329; Hill 1930, 212.

[4] Hill 1930, nos. 824-825.

[5] Hill 1930, 212, accepted the groupings in a very tentative manner, commenting that "the uncertainty of the attributions...cannot be too strongly emphasized." He thought that the connection between the first and the other groups was circumstantial, although each of the four groups was in itself harmonious in character. The final, fully French group, has been claimed more improbably as the work of native artists; indeed, there is no record of Candida's activity after 1499. He appears to have been, nonetheless, the source of inspiration for the French school of medal making.

[This is the artist's biography published in the NGA systematic catalogue of Renaissance medals.]

Artist Bibliography

Scher, Stephen K., ed. The Currency of Fame: Portrait Medals of the Renaissance, exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington; The Frick Collection, New York, 1994: 121-122.

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