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Gasparo Molo

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(he wrote his name also MOLA and MOLI)

A skilful Italian goldsmith and planisher, chiefly known as a medalist, born (according to Forrer) in Breglio near Como or (according to older records) in Lugano; date of death unknown. He was first active at Milan, then at Mantua, from 1608 at Florence, from which latter period we possess his first signed medal. Here he was maestro delle stampe della monete . In 1609 he became well known by his medals commemorating the marriage and the accession of Cosmo II. In 1609 and 1610 he cut the dies for the talers and the "medals of merit " conferred by the grand duke. According to Kenner, it is not necessary to suppose that he gave up his connexion with the Florentine court at this time, because, in the following years, he struck medals for the court in Mantua, as well as coins for Guastalla and Castiglione, especially as he was again working in Florence in 1614 (certainly in 1615). The medals also, which he made after 1620 for Prince Vincenzo II of Mantua, may very well have been struck at Florence. His further sojourn in Tuscany seems to have been rendered distasteful to him by intrigues. About 1623 he moved to Rome, where he became die-cutter at the papal mint in place of J. A. Moro, who died in 1625. Here he made a great many coins and medals for Urban VIII (1623-44) Innocent X (1644-55), and Alexander VII (1655-57). His last works date from 1664. As it seems strange that Molo should, at the age of eighty-four, still continue working with unabated strength, it is thought that another artist of his name — perhaps his son — continued Gasparo's work. Indeed, we find in 1639 a G. D. Molo, who might have been a son of Gasparo and who apparently died young; but it is more likely that Gasparo founded a school in Rome, and that his engravers worked according to his instructions and in his style, but passed off their works under his name and with his signature. One of his numerous pupils is his successor at the Zecca, the famous Hamerani (Hameran, a German), the founder of that long-lived family of artists, Hamerani. Molo is a good and faithful delineator of character (cf. the medal of Pope Innocent VII ); he is also excellent, in figure compositions. The dragon-killer St. George, as Kenner remarks, by its natural and beautiful filling in of space, reminds us of classical coins. As long as cast medals were generally used, public interest in the portrait predominated, and the reverse was usually neglected; this changed with the introduction of the stamping technique. We know only a few cast medals of Molo; he preferred the stamped medal, and his works of this kind are among the best of that time. It may be stated that he was directly responsible for the new ideas in stamping technique. Molo's biography is still very obscure.


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