Italian family of gem-engravers and medallists. Giuseppe Cerbara (b Rome, 15 July 1770; d Rome, 6 April 1856) was the son of Giovanni Battista Cerbara (b Rome, 1748; d Rome, 1811) and was one of the best-known gem-engravers and medallists working in Rome in the 18th century and the early 19th. His artistic achievements brought him many honours: in 1812 he was elected Fellow of the Accademia di S Luca, in 1815 Fellow of the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Vienna and in 1825 Fellow of the Royal Academy of Fine Art of Antwerp. In 1831 he was elected to the Congregazione dei Virtuosi del Pantheon and in 1834 to the Accademia Fiorentina di Belle Arti. From 1822 he held the post of Incisore Camerale to the papal mint with Giuseppe Girometti; the artists were responsible for producing a medal on alternate years. Appointed Incisore Particolare dei Sommi Pontefici by ...
Lucia Pirzio Biroli Stefanelli
[Du Plessis; Duplessy.]
French family of goldsmiths, bronze founders, sculptors and designers, of Italian descent. Due to the similarity in name, there has been some confusion between father and son and the attribution of their work; they are now generally distinguished as Duplessis père and Duplessis fils. Jean-Claude Chambellan Duplessis [Giovanni Claudio Chiamberlano] (b Turin, ?1690–95; d Paris, 1774) practised as a goldsmith in Turin before his marriage in 1720 and probably worked for Victor Amadeus II. He moved with his family to Paris c. 1740, perhaps encouraged there by Juste-Aurèle Meissonnier. In 1742 he was commissioned by Louis XV to design and make two large, bronze braziers, presented to the Turkish ambassador Saïd Mahmet Pasha (e.g. in Istanbul, Topkapi Pal. Mus.). From c. 1748 until his death he was employed at the porcelain factories of Vincennes and Sèvres as a designer of porcelain forms and supplier of bronze stands. He also supervised and advised craftsmen. In ...
Hélène du Mesnil
(b Rodez, Aveyron, Oct 25, 1777; d Paris, May 4, 1858).
French sculptor and medallist. He trained in Paris as a goldsmith with Jean Baptiste Claude Odiot before turning to the engraving of medals; about 1808 he joined the workshop of the gem-engraver and medallist Romain-Vincent Jeuffroy. In 1819 he showed his first work of sculpture, a marble statue in Neo-classical style of Cupid Testing his Arrows (untraced), at the Paris Salon. In 1823 he became medal-engraver to Charles X, and he remained a prolific engraver of commemorative and portrait medallions throughout his life. He competed unsuccessfully in the competition (1829) for allegorical sculpture for the pediment of the church of the Madeleine, Paris. That same year, however, he received an official commission for two seated marble statues representing the Power of the Law and Universal Suffrage for the courtyard of the Chambre des Députés, Palais Bourbon, Paris; these ponderous and academic works were not put in place until ...
[Gil y Pérez, Gerónimo Antonio]
(b Zamora, Spain, Nov 3, 1731; d Mexico City, April 18, 1798).
Spanish printmaker, medallist, and type designer, active in Spain and Mexico. He was one of the first students at the Real Academia de Bellas Artes de S Fernando in Madrid (founded 1752), which awarded him a pension to train as a medallist from 1754 to 1758 under Spain’s Engraver General, Tomás Francisco Prieto (1726–82). In 1760 the academy named Gil Académico de Mérito for his medal-engraving skills.
Upon completing his studies, Gil briefly served as drawing instructor at the S Fernando academy but worked principally making copperplate engravings, letter press type, and medals. He was a frequent contributor to luxury books sponsored by the Real Academia de Historia and the S Fernando academy, including the so-called prince’s edition of Don Quixote (1780) and Antigüedades árabes de España (1787). He spent more than 15 years designing type for the Real Biblioteca, and was credited by his peers with rescuing the Spanish type-making industry. The finest works he carried out in Spain included the engraved illustrations for ...
Jacques van Lennep
(b Maastricht, May 20, 1784; d Rome, March 3, 1836).
Flemish sculptor. He gave up his apprenticeship as a goldsmith in Venlo to attend the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. He then went to Hamburg and subsequently stayed in St Petersburg between 1806 and 1814, where he probably trained with the Antwerp sculptor Joseph Camberlain (1756–1821). In 1814 he returned to the Low Countries and spent several months at Anne-Louis Girodet’s studio in Paris, where he exhibited at the Salon of 1819. In the same year he went to Rome, where his terracotta St Sebastian Martyr (sketch in Brussels, Mus. A. Mod.) won the first prize in a competition organized by Antonio Canova. During this period he began working in the studio of Bertel Thorvaldsen, whose pupil and assistant he became. From the beginning of the 1820s in his numerous variations on the theme of the Diskobolos (plaster; examples in Brussels, Mus. A. Mod.), Kessels demonstrated his devotion to Classical and Hellenistic sculpture as interpreted by Thorvaldsen according to the doctrines of Johann Joachim Winckelmann. Among his numerous classically minded patrons was ...
Stephen K. Scher
Italian family of die-engravers and medallists. (Carlo Domenico) Lorenzo Lavy (b Turin, 11 Aug 1720; d Turin, 20 Jan 1789) was employed at the Royal Mint in Turin from 1750, becoming engraver in 1763. His main work, 77 struck medals for a series of the House of Savoy (1757–73; Turin, Mus. Civ. A. Ant., and Naples, Capodimonte) commissioned by Charles-Emanuel III, King of Sardinia (reg 1730–73), was done in a typically dry, conventional 18th-century die-engraver’s manner, with classicized allegorical reverses and without any particular distinction. His son Carlo Michele Lavy (b Turin, April 1765; d Turin, 6 Dec 1813) was appointed to the Royal Mint at Turin in 1789 but in 1801 was replaced by his brother Amadeo (Domenico Sotero) Lavy (b Turin, 22 April 1777; d Turin, 10 Oct 1864) as die-cutter to the new mint established under the Cisalpine Republic. In addition to designing and cutting the dies for coins of the Turin mint, Carlo Michele Lavy produced several medals designed by ...
Irish family of medallists. William Mossop (b Dublin, 1751; d Dublin, 28 Jan 1805) trained as a die-sinker in Dublin and made button and seal dies for the Dublin Linen Board before turning his attention to medals. His first medal, portraying the actor Thomas Ryder (silver, bronze and gilt bronze, 1782; see Brown, no. 242), is an accomplished piece, especially given Mossop’s lack of training in this field. In the 1790s he worked for the Dublin firm of Camac, Kyan & Camac, cutting dies for its copper halfpenny. He also produced dies for seals and worked in ivory and precious stones. Some of his medal designs are borrowed, but many are original works. His Cunningham medal (gold, silver and bronze, 1776; see Brown, no. 267), an award given by the Royal Irish Academy and portraying its founder James Caulfeild, 1st Earl of Charlemont, is one of the finest of Irish medals. His son ...
(b Biberach an der Riss, nr Ulm, March 21, 1705; d St Petersburg, Oct 27, 1763).
German gem-engraver and medallist. He trained as a goldsmith in Biberach and then learnt seal- and gem-engraving in Berne. In 1730 he travelled to Venice to work as a seal-engraver. In 1732 the antiquary Baron Philipp von Stosch set him to copying ancient carved gems in Florence. To improve his skill, Natter drew after the Antique at the Accademia di San Luca in Rome, developing a style based on Classical models that was to become characteristic of his gem- carving, an example of which is his cornelian bust of Livia as Ceres (c. 1730; London, V&A). He also became one of the earliest representatives of the Neo-classical medal style. At the end of the 1730s he moved to London, where he produced several noteworthy medals, such as the portrait bust of Sir Robert Walpole (silver, copper and lead, 1741; London, BM). In 1743 the Danish Court invited him to Copenhagen, where he carved a number of gems, among which were the portrait busts in chalcedony of ...
(b Paris, 1732–6; d Paris, May 6, 1795).
French sculptor, bronze-caster, designer and engraver. He may have been trained by his cousin Jean-Joseph de Saint-Germain. Prieur was accepted as a sculptor in the Académie de Saint-Luc, Paris, in 1765 and became a master bronze-caster and chaser in 1769. In 1766 he collaborated with Victor Louis and Philippe Caffiéri (ii) on decorations for the Royal Castle, Warsaw, providing many designs (U. Warsaw, Lib.) for furniture and furnishing objects and executing some of them (examples in Warsaw, Royal Castle; Detroit, MI, Inst. A.; Paris, Mus. Nissim de Camondo). With Louis he also took part in the redecoration of the choir of Chartres Cathedral. In 1770, on the occasion of the marriage of the Dauphin (later Louis XVI) to Marie-Antoinette, he produced an exceptional clock on the theme of Peace and Abundance (St Petersburg, Hermitage) from a drawing by François Boucher. The clock on the theme of Vigilance (Paris, Louvre) dates from the same period. In ...
Irish family of medallists . William Woodhouse (b Dublin, 1805; d Woodville, Co. Wicklow, 6 Dec 1878), son of John Woodhouse (i) (d 1836), a Dublin die-sinker, trained in Birmingham with the medallist Thomas Halliday ( fl 1810–54). His medal of George Gordon, 6th Baron Byron (bronze and white metal; see Brown, i, no. 1222), engraved on the poet’s death in 1824, won a Society of Arts prize. In 1828 he executed a medal of Daniel O’Connell (silver, white metal and brass; see Brown, i, nos 1325–6). Having returned to Dublin, where he set up his own business, throughout the 1830s and 1840s he produced medals for a wide range of societies and institutions. When he retired in the 1850s his son John Woodhouse (ii) (b Dublin, 1835; d Dublin, May 1892) took over the unfinished work. He had studied at the art schools of the Royal Dublin Society and cut his first die in ...
English family of medallists and sculptors . Thomas Wyon (i) (1767–1830) was Chief Engraver of His Majesty’s Seals; his elder son, Thomas Wyon (ii) (1792–1817), was Chief Engraver at the Royal Mint. The latter’s cousin and the most important artist of the family, William Wyon (1795–1851), expected to succeed him at the Mint in 1817, but instead the position went to Benedetto Pistrucci. However, from 1822, when Pistrucci refused to use Francis Chantrey’s bust of George IV as a basis for the coinage, Wyon, as Second Engraver, assumed responsibility for the coinage and became de facto Chief Engraver.
The accurate, clear portraits, the quality of design and the technically perfect engraving of Wyon’s work make him the definitive medallist of 19th-century England. His portraits of Queen Victoria were used on all British coinage until 1887 and for all postage stamps until 1902. Medallic design, however, provided Wyon with greater opportunity for artistic creativity. His lifelong admiration for John Flaxman is reflected in the ...