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Epic Discovery. Major Update. Dante Appears!

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Where to begin? When in doubt, from the start is always a good option.


I purchased this via eBay, a plaque/medal mounted in a 8 X 8 inch mahogany wood frame. It is of the poet Ludovico Ariosto(1474 -1533) signed by Domenico Ambrogi(1600-?- 1678 or later) here are two of the vendors pictures.



I have taken some of my own pictures which help to show the quality of the piece.




I was surprised to find no entry in Forrer's Bio........ for Domenico Ambrogi, searching the web I came across this auction result.




As you can see there is a reference , Voltolina 1020, and that it appears to be the only medal made by Ambrogi.


Well I sent pictures of both the Ariosto & Tasso to Philip Attwood of the British Museum, who is an expert on Italian medals, but he was away for a week, during that week I had an idea. Seeing as Ambrogi had produced 2 plaques of Italian renaissance poets perhaps he had done others, turned out it was a good idea. Found this auction result of an ex-Michael Hall collection 'roundel' not attributed but to my eyes it was another by Ambrogi.




Well I could see something below the bust, so blowing it up and comparing it to the signature on mine.......eureka! The last 'O' in Domenico and the capital 'A' of Ambrogi is just about visible.




Seeing as Philip would not have seen the previous email yet I sent the pictures of the signatures & auction, stating, I hope this is news to you, though you probably already know all about these medals.


His reply:


Thanks, Pat. No – we seem to have no medals by Ambrogi, nor do I have information on him, so this is interesting stuff.

Best wishes
I have been trying to contact by email Piero Voltolina, whose reference was used for the Tasso auction, to confirm if that was the only previous known plaque by Ambrogi who was chiefly an architectural painter of frescoes & quadratura plus an engraver of plates for printing pictures, or if he was aware of these other 2.
Strange that Michael Hall the greatest private collector of Renaissance & baroque medals owned the one of Petrarca(Petrarch) but did not attribute it to Ambrogi, though the signature is very indistinct & unlike me had no other to compare it to.
So just to sum up, I have;
Discovered a plaque of Ariosto by Ambogi,
Attributed one of Petrarca to Ambrogi,
By doing so, have discovered a small series of Renaissance Poets plaques by Ambrogi.
Unless of course Voltolina replies to my email & he was already aware of these 2 others.
So not just an epic discovery but an epic post too boot.

AMBROGI, Domenico, called Menichino Del Brizio. According to Malvasia, this painter acquired that name from his being the scholar of Francesco Brizio. He was a native of Bologna, and distinguished himself as a painter of history, both in oil and in fresco. He also excelled in representing landscapes, perspective, and architectural views, and was much employed in the churches and palaces at Bologna mainly for his quadratura. , In S. Giacomo Maggiore, is a picture by this painter of the Guardian Angel, and in the Nunziata, S. Francesco, with a glory of angels. In 1653, he published some wooden cuts, from his own designs, printed in chiaro-scuro, of which one represented a woman in a triumphal car, holding two flambeaux, and a serpent, conducted by Neptune.


Here is a link to a map of Bologna(Ambrogi's home town) signed bottom right by Ambrogi



and a list of the variations of his name Ambrogi, Domenico (Italian painter and printmaker, ca. 1600-after 1678) Names from Getty:

Ambrogi, Domenico (preferred,V,index)

Domenico Ambrogi (V,display)
Brizio, Menichino del (V)
Menichino del Brizio (V)
Briccio, Menichino del (V)
Bricci, Menichino del (V)
Menghino del Brizio (V)
Brizio, Menghino del (V)
Brizzi, Menghino del (V)
Domenico degl'Ambrosij (V)
Domenico del Briccio (V)
Ambrogi, Menichino Del Brizio (V)





Edited by constanius
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A beautiful piece, and some excellent detective work there!


If I may make a couple of comments:


1) Daniel Fearon catalogued the three part sale of the Michael Hall collection, so it may or may not include items of knowledge which Mr. Hall had (avoiding here the fact that I have no idea as to the extent of Mr. Hall's knowledge regarding the medals in his collection).


2) Unfortunately, I think a reply from Mr. Voltolina is unlikely, as I believe he has passed away.

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1) Daniel Fearon catalogued the three part sale of the Michael Hall collection, so it may or may not include items of knowledge which Mr. Hall had (avoiding here the fact that I have no idea as to the extent of Mr. Hall's knowledge regarding the medals in his collection).


2) Unfortunately, I think a reply from Mr. Voltolina is unlikely, as I believe he has passed away.

Very good points to make.


Michael Hall was a very serious & knowledgeable collector &, though 83 when the auction took place, I am reasonable sure that information that important & unusual would have been used.


I had a reply, soon after I sent my email to Piero Voltolina, from his widow Meri informing me that he had passed away 10 years ago. I had delayed posting that info while we were corresponding, back & forth, over the next few days.


Meri was kind to enough to check her late husband's work & informed me that he was unaware of any other plaque/medal by Ambrogi, further to that, she was still in possession of Ambrogi's Tasso & sent me a picture of it. I gave her the link to this post, partly so she could see what the other Ambrogi plaques were auctioned for, she subsequently offered to sell it to me saying she would be happy if an important part of her husband's collection went to a passionate collector & gave me permission to use the picture here.



We agreed on a price, which we were both happy with, & I also purchased from Meri a copy of Piero Voltolina's 3 vol. "la storia di Venezia attraverso le medaglie". I will have to learn Italian :bsad:


The picture helped to confirm, what I suspected, that the Petrarca, the Tasso & my Ariosto were all copper, either darken with time or deliberately. The Petrarca is heavily patinated green, my Ariosto shows copper highlights through the blackening & a slight tinge of green in places, Voltolina’s Tasso is clearly copper and been cleaned.


So almost certain that I have discovered a small series of medallic plaques by Ambrogi.........perhaps there are others to be found?

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Such interesting reading.


Being able to purchase the plaque and the book no less, from his widow is very nice. It will be great to have the piece since it has the provenance.


I am sure you are very happy with how this has transpired; patience and research pays off!

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The three massive volumes are wonderful, and I too wish I could learn Italian so that I didn't need to look up translations every time I use it (or any of the other Italian works I have).

Welcome to CoinPeople Iosephus :art:


Seeing as you are interested in Italian medals you might enjoy these http://www.coinpeople.com/index.php/topic/33582-the-sacred-mount-of-san-carloborromeo-arona-1614/ http://www.coinpeople.com/index.php/topic/34112-pedro-tellez-giron-3rd-duke-of-osuna-1618/


Thanks everybody for your kind comments.


It is rewarding to share our collections, especially when fellow collectors post feedback, that is a great encouragement.



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Thanks! A couple of interesting pieces there,and I've enjoyed browsing through your other previous posts. I especially appreciate all of the background information that you include in your posts. I will try to also share some items from my collection in the coming days.

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WHOA! What a story! I hope with all hopes that this is indeed a discovery!

TDP, I am delighted your hopes have been fufilled.




Congratulations, Pat! Epic, epic. I am green with jealousy.

Thanks Frank, I thought you would enjoy this post.


I cannot really believe it all myself, it has all happened so fast. I was so delighted to find the one on eBay(provenance of most of my medals) and everything seems to have just snowballed since. You know me, always digging for more info & instead of just posting a find, trying to write a novel about it, hoping not to bore everyone to death. Well I guess this time it really paid off handsomely.


Alas I fear there is no way I can ever top this, so perhaps I should just retire gracefully from collecting.........but maybe not.



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All very nice nice, the medals and info. It is always nice when it works out beyond any expectations ones has with a new accusation. All though not an area of interest in collecting for me it still great to see some of the works of the old masters. And the stories that go with them. :clown2:

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great sleuthing as always! :)


A wiseman once told me that the best investment you can make is in your own knowledge, and for you that investment has paid off.


Nice medal, nice story, and once again...well done that man!



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This link has some interesting statues of Italian poets which relate to the medals http://torresani-edu.blogspot.ca/2014/01/quattro-busti-di-poeti.html which came first, the chicken or the egg? No information on the sculptor to help.


Michele Torresani, a graduate of the University of Parma with a thesis on the poet Giorgio Caproni, who wrote the blog replied to my request for any info re the statues,
".....congratulations for your discovery about Domenico Ambrogi. Unfortunately, I do not know the sculptor of the four busts. The medals by Ambrogi of Ariosto and Petrarch are Clearly the source used by the sculptor of the two busts. Instead, the bust of Tasso must have been inspired by another source, the two being too different faces, Their clothing and the cutting of beards. I guess the existence of a medal by Ambrogi of Dante"




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  • 1 month later...

I will let the pictures tell the story.











No signature visible on the vendor's picture, took a gamble being 95% sure it was by Ambrogi, & snapped it up as the size 156mm, style and Dante being the obvious choice of another in the series made that an almost certainty. Awaiting delivery from Italy.


Though there appeared to be no signature going by the vendor's picture, later by using image manipulation, the 'A' of Ambrogi appears below the bust. Picture removed.

Now I have the Dante in hand I can find no trace of the signature but comparing it to the others I am convinced it is by Ambrogi. I sent pictures to Philip Attwood at the British Museum and he replied "I'm sure you are right".







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  • 7 years later...

Well this is a fascinating thread to stumble upon! I have not a medal / medallion, but rather a cast and stamped pewter dish with the exact image of Petrarca that appears on the Ambrogi medallion. The details on my dish are well worn, but a close comparison of the Ambrogi bronze and my dish show an exact match, including size, the depressed area on my dish being 15.5 cm.

More detailed large photos of the dish are in my Google album at https://photos.app.goo.gl/Jze27ha1devMvgCv8   Several folks versed in Renaissance art speculated that it was an alms dish from a church, based on the wear and scratch patterns as well as the overall theme.

Constanius doesn't appear to have been here for some years, but if anyone here knows him please let him know about it.

I'm very curious whether anyone here might have some insight into the age of this piece and how it came to be. I will post the Ambrogi medallion from the Hall Collection sale in a moment for comparison.


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