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Lysippus Junior

Roman, active c. 1470 - 1484

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The real names of Lysippus are unknown. He records himself as Lysippus on two signed medals, of Marascha and of Philethicus.[1] Raffaelo Maffei mentioned him as "Lysippus the Younger" or "The Modern" and as a nephew of Cristoforo di Geremia.[2] His name is a self-conscious revival, for the Lysippus of antiquity, who was Alexander the Great's favorite sculptor in bronze.

Lysippus appears to have been active principally during the reign of Pope Sixtus IV, 1471-1484, the earliest date given on one of his medals being 1478. His uncle was presumably the inspiration for his work: Lysippus adopted from Cristofor a peculiar, sharply curved truncation to the busts of his effigies and an admirable respect for the letterforms in inscriptions. His portrait style is charming, direct, personal, and sympathetic.

The medals by Lysippus are homogeneous as a group and surpass in quality the work of his uncle. Of the twenty-seven medals by or attributed to Lysippus, only three are of grand sitters: two of Pope Sixtus IV and one of Cardinal Riario.[3] The sitters are in general rather minor functionaries of the papal court or teachers at the university of Rome. Lysippus was clearly a close friend of some of his sitters, as is evident from the inscription on his medal of Partenio (NGA 1957.14.811.a,b). Lysippus adapted the medal to form a mirror as the reverse of a portrait medal that may depict himself.[4]

[1] George Francis Hill, A Corpus of the Italian Medals of the Renaissance before Cellini, 2 vols., London, 1930: nos. 788-789.

[2] Raffaello Maffei da Volterra, Commentarii Urbani, Rome, 1506: 300 (verso).

[3] Hill 1930, nos. 806-807, no. 804.

[4] Hill 1930: no. 796; Steven Scher, The Currency of Fame: Portrait Medals of the Renaissance, exh. cat., National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Frick Collection, New York, Washington and New York, 1994: no. 36.

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

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