Stack Collection of Renaissance Medals for Auction

. October 28, 2009

A collection of important Renaissance medals formed by leading New York dealer-collector Lawrence R. Stack will be sold by specialist auctioneers Morton & Eden in London on December 9 2009. The medals will be sold without reserve and are expected to raise a total of around £2 million.

The sale represents the most important offering of 15th and 16th century medals from Italy, France, Germany and the Low Countries to come onto the market since before the Second World War, when the Rosenheim and Oppenheimer collections were sold by Sotheby’s and Christie’s in 1923 and 1936 respectively.

The collection was assembled by Mr. Stack, who saw an opportunity to buy into a market which had been somewhat overlooked by collectors. As with other significant collections assembled by Mr. Stack, including, for instance, an important collection of early English coins sold by Sotheby’s in 1999, the medals were owned as a partnership. With Mr. Stack’s recent departure from the firm which bears his family name, the partnership profile changed and it was decided that the only equitable manner of dividing the collection was to offer it for sale at public auction. Mr. Stack himself continues to be a devotee of Renaissance art and art history and intends to remain an active collector in this field.

The decision to sell was not taken lightly and the medals are being offered for sale without reserve to encourage new buyers into the field. The entire collection of 350 pieces is estimated to fetch in the region of £2 million.

Highlights include:

• A gold medal of Mary Tudor by Jacopo da Trezzo formerly in the Rothschild and Gaines collections and one of only two known. The medal was made in 1554, the year of her marriage to the future Philip II of Spain and was recently on display at the National Gallery, London, as part of the exhibition “Renaissance Faces”. When it last appeared for auction, in the Gaines collection sold by Morton & Eden in 2005 it realised £243,200, a record price for a medal and it is now being estimated at £200-300,000.

• Four exceptional bronze medals by Pisanello who is generally credited as the inventor of the modern medal in the late 1430s. They depict Leonello d’Este, Marquess of Ferrara, Vittorino da Feltre, the humanist, Alfonso V, King of Aragon and Sicily and Don Inigo d’Avalos, Grand Chamberlain to Alfonso V. Estimates range from £50,000 to £100,000.

• A bronze medal of the humanist philosopher Giovanni Pico della Miradola attributed to Niccolo Spinelli, called Fiorentino, circa 1485, thought to be the finest known. This medal was sold by Sotheby’s in Zurich in 1974, when it realised CHF 65,000, at the time a world record price for a medal. It is now estimated at £80-120,000.

• Hans Reinhart’s masterpiece, the silver Trinity Medal of 1544, issued by Maurice, Elector of Saxony, in an attempt at reconciliation between the Protestant and Catholic churches. It is estimated at £100-150,000.

• Albrecht Durer’s silver medal of the emperor Charles V, struck in 1521, commissioned by the City of Nuremberg in anticipation of the emperor’s visit following his coronation in Aachen in the previous year. It is one of eleven known specimens in silver of which this and one other are the only examples outside a museum – and is estimated at £150-200,000.

Tom Eden, expert in charge, said: “A sale of this significance being sold without reserve has no parallels and offers huge opportunities to collectors, dealers and institutional buyers.

“Renaissance medals have always fascinated academics but have generally not been taken seriously by top-end collectors. They are important objects which often furnish us with images of individuals whose portraits are otherwise unknown and they display, in a very personal way, the changes in portraiture and art styles from the 15th century onwards. They are an important adjunct to painting on the one hand and sculpture on the other”.

For further information please contact Tom Eden at Morton & Eden on +44 (0)207 493 5344 or info@mortonandeden.com

Category: Auction News

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