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Fashion, Devotion and Contemplation

The Status and Functions of Italian Renaissance Plaquettes

Marika Leino

Italian Renaissance ‘plaquettes’ are often stored and displayed as a homogeneous category or genre in museum collections due to their apparently uniform small relief format. This has resulted in a scholarly literature that has concentrated largely on connoisseurship and taken the form of catalogues, thereby both responding to and propagating the myth of this classification. However, what is often forgotten, or buried deep in scattered catalogue entries, is that during the Renaissance this small relief format was regularly mass-produced and employed extensively in a variety of different contexts. Far from being a homogeneous category, plaquettes were originally viewed as many separate types of object, including pieces for personal adornment, liturgical objects, domestic artefacts, and models for architecture and painting. For the Renaissance consumer, the commission of a hat badge with a personal motto, the purchase of an off-the-shelf inkwell or the acquisition of a small relief for his study were separate concerns.
The aim of this book is to redress the balance by examining these reliefs in terms of their use, alongside broader issues regarding the status of such objects within visual, scholarly and artistic culture from the fifteenth century to the early sixteenth.

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Appendix 2 Plaquettes as Sword Pommels

Extract

This appendix lists instances of historiated sword pommel reliefs (either still mounted or with clear indication of original use) that can be linked to apparently independent plaquettes. The examples here are based on published pieces, as well as those in major British museums examined by the author. It does not aim to be exhaustive, but serves to give an indica- tion of numbers and breakdown of artists and designs. Only pieces which are without doubt sword pommels have been included. The appendix is divided into designs by artist, listing the design/designs, location where known, reference to literature, if any, and shape. Master IO.F.F. Notes: Fulton 1989, p. 149 says he has found sixty-eight pommels incor- porating Master IO.F.F.’s designs, but unfortunately he does not list them. Lewis (2002) lists thirty-nine examples of Master IO.F.F. sword pommels, however, this may include some repetitions/omissions. 1. Allegory of Union, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, inv. no.  42.50.155 (Fulton 1989, p.  148). Shield-shaped with ornate surround. 2. Allegory of Union / Mucius Scaevola, Münzkabinett, Munich (Habich 1910, fig. 6). Shield-shaped with ornate surround. 3. Allegory with Prudence, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, inv. no. 42.50.154 (Fulton 1989, p. 148). Round with quattro-lobe surround. 290 Appendix 2 4. Allegory with Prudence / Allegory of Union, Münzkabinett, Munich (Habich 1910, fig. 7). Round with quattro-lobe surround. Attached to sword. 5. Allegory with Prudence, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, inv. no. 4371–1857. Round with quattro-lobe surround. Only one side remaining. 6. Allegory...

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