Cast bronze medal of Pope Julius II commemorating the building of St Peter's


British Museum

British Museum

Although traditionally attributed to the leading Renaissance goldsmith Caradosso (about 1452-1526/7), this medal may in fact be the work of the famous architect Donato Bramante (1444-1514). Bramante's architectural skills were fostered during his time as principal architect to Ludovico Sforza, duke of Milan, before arriving in Rome in 1499 to work for Pope Julius II.

Bramante's principal task as papal architect was the supervision of the reconstruction of the basilica of St Peter's. Demolition of the old Byzantine building had begun in the previous century, but little new building had taken place. Bramante now proposed a centrally planned church surmounted by an enormous dome, which is depicted on the reverse of this medal. He had made a self-portrait medal, probably in the previous year, which also included his project for St Peter's, and it is therefore likely that he also made or at least designed this piece, examples of which were buried in the foundations of the new basilica. St Peter's was not completed until the seventeenth century, by which time little remained of Bramante's original plan.

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  • Title: Cast bronze medal of Pope Julius II commemorating the building of St Peter's
  • Date Created: 1506/1506
  • Physical Dimensions: Diameter: 57.00mm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: cast
  • Subject: cleric; virgin and child; architecture
  • Registration number: G3,PMAE3.5
  • Production place: Made in Italy
  • Producer: Attributed to Caradosso Foppa, Cristoforo
  • Material: bronze
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Donated by George IV. Previous owner/ex-collection George III


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