Della Valle Engraver (possibly Lautizio di Meo de' Rotelli, called Lautizio da Perugia) / Ambit of Lorenzo Lotti (called Lorenzetto)
Rome, Italy; original design of the Risen Christ ca. 1511-25, this pax dated 1557
Bronze; 128 x 214.3 mm
The present pax is an elaborate and monumental example of its type. Cast with open-work features and elaborately engraved on its reverse, it represents a rare breed of high-quality examples of this art form. The front depicts the Risen Christ attended by apostles, flanked by columns with putto supporting its base and surmounting its pediment, topped by an engraved cartouche with the Christogram: IHS. The base features the armorial of an unidentified family featuring six crescent moons (probably the crest of the donors who commissioned and gave this pax to a regional church).
The base of the columns is hand-engraved with trophies and the same goldsmith has remarkably engraved the reverse with various fantastic grotesques, trophies, vanitas, foliage and putto. The date, 1557 is subtly featured on one of the engraved trophies.
The frame of this pax is rather uncommon with less than a handful of examples observed in published literature. The relief of the Risen Christ, however, is reasonably known and is of an earlier date, ca. 1511-25, originally designed for incorporation into paxes. The finest casts of this independent relief are known by examples at the Museo Nazionale del Bargello and Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Stylistically, John Pope-Hennessey compared the depiction of Christ to Bramantino while others have superficially compared it with Andrea Mantegna's print of the Risen Christ. However, it more closely corresponds to a lesser known print of the Risen Christ by Marcoantonio Raimondi after a fresco by Raphael. Francesco Rossi has suggested Antonio di Paolo de' Fabbri was the author of this plaquette, comparing it with a bronze roundel of Doubting Thomas originally intended for Raphael's project at the Chigi Chapel at the Santa Maria della Pace. However, the roundel has also been attributed to Lorenzetto and the composition's close affinity between other works of Lorenzetto and Raphael suggest someone close to Lorenzetto conceived the plaquette.
We alternatively suggest the goldsmith and seal-maker Lautizio da Perugia could be the relief's author. It's stylistic compatibility with the seal for Cardinal Andrea della Vale is quite convincing. This seal has traditionally been ascribed to Lautizio, however a deficiency of firm knowledge regarding his style leads us to only ascribe the relief to the eponymous Della Valle Engraver, responsible for the seal, a seal of Cibo at the Louvre, this plaquette and another plaquette of the Lamentation popularly reproduced throughout the 16th century and derivative of Raphael's influence.
Condition: Early cast plaquette and frame, fused together. Gilt obverse (probably regilded during the 18th or 19th century) with a greenish-brown patina on the reverse. A later, probably ca. 1800 iron pax handle has been added as a replacement to an original (lost) handle. Traces of sprues or former handle attachments observable on the reverse along the left and right central margins. A casting flaw along the lower column frieze beside the right cherub’s head has occurred, evident by a repair to the reverse where the flaw has been filled and sealed.
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