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Domenico di Polo de' Vetri

Florentine, after 1480 - 1547

Domenico di Polo; de' Vetri, Domenico di Polo di Angelo

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Domenico di Polo di Angelo de' Vetri was a Florentine gem-engraver and a medalist who was trained in cutting hard stones in the workshops of Giovanni delle Corniole and Pier Maria Pescia. Nothing is known of Domenico's personal life, he was active in the workshop of Pier Maria Pescia from 1501. He was typical of a new breed of hard stone engravers in being dependent solely on court patronage. He produced fine portraits of Alessandro de' Medici in cameo and in intaglio[1] and he struck portrait medals of both Alessandro and Cosimo I de' Medici as rulers of Florence. The medals could only be produced with the aid of the machinery available in the court mint. This indicates a general change in the status of the medalist in the sixteenth century to that of a court official serving a court propaganda purpose. At the same time Domenico Poggini served as court sculptor, producing struck medals for the court, he continued to make intimate personal medals by the traditional casting method for the less clamorous clientele of writers and artists.[2]

A seal engraved with a design of Hercules, used by Duke Alessandro and made in 1532, has been ascribed to Domenico on the basis of a payment document.[3] He has been confused with a gem cutter named Domenico de' Compagni,[4] and a medalist named Francesco dal Prato.[5]

[1] Langedijk 1981, 239, nos. 39, 41-43.

[2] For example, the medal of Benedetto Varchi of 1561 (1957.14.939).

[3] Vasari-Milanesi 5 (1880), 384; Marco Collareta, “Il sigillo con l’Ercole del Museo degli Argenti,” Rivista d’Arte 38 (1986): 291-293.

[4] Martha McCrory, "Domenico de' Compagni: Roman Medalist and Antiquities Dealer of the Cinquecento," StHist 21 (1987), 115-129.

[5] See Henri de la Tour 1900. The article was the first to distinguish between de'Vetri and Francesco dal Prato, distributing between them the medals classed by Armand as the work of the "Médailleur au signe de Mars."

[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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