IL MODERNO (GALEAZZO MONDELLA)
active in Lombardy and in Rome between the fifteenth and the sixteenth century
Relief with Madonna with Child
silver, 11×7 cm
This charming silver relief, small in size, served as a pax, a liturgical object that was supposed to be kissed by the faithful during Holy Communion. The Madonna sits at the center while holding the Child, in a pose that seems to come from Raphaelesque ideas, expressed in works such as the Madonna Bridgewater, made in 1508 (Edinburgh, National Gallery of Scotland). Saint John, holding a small cross, and other angels and saints, engraved with great finesse in the background, complete the image.
The representation is part of a Renaissance aedicule, richly decorated with geometrical palmette motifs. On the upper part, the tympanum is enriched by the image God and a cherub, while the predella is centered by a shield containing the Medicis’ coats of arms.
This iconography is the work of the renowned medalist and goldsmith known as Moderno, active in northern Italy, between the fifteenth and the sixteenth century, identified by some as Verona-based Galeazzo Mondella (1467-1528). Probably dated around the first or second decade of the sixteenth century, this image is also known in other versions, such as the almost identical one preserved in the Cleveland Museum of Art (inv. 1989.251), with slightly more simplified details and partly gilded.
A number of more diversified bronze and gilded bronze reliefs can be found in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum in New York (inv. 1986.319.24 e 08.189.2) and of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (inv. 6977.1860); in these versions, the Medicis’ coat of arms is missing.