A terracotta Plaquette by Michelangelo -

Height 41/2 in 115mm      Width 5 in 128mm

A terracotta Plaquette by Michelangelo - 1560. made for Leone Leoni to cast in bronze

Michelangelo Portrait Medal by Leone Leoni in 1560

Reverse side of Michelangelo portrait medal
by Leone Leoni after a design by Michelangelo      Width ?

In 1560 Leoni made a portrait medalion of Michelangelo in his 80's the reverse side was designed by Michelagelo. It depicts a blind beggar being guided by a dog.

It is a religious theme: we all are beggars here on earth, living on the charity of God and our fellow men; we are blind and only Faith can guide us the right way

Michelangelo liked Leioni's portrait medal of himself, and in return gave this and two other wax designs for Leoni to cast. Medalions were popular in Michelangelo's day and were made of and given to the movers and shakers of the renaissance.

The art expert Thode in his 1913 article on the the Haehnel Collection (Von Praun) did not consider the this to be by the hand of Michelangelo. Thode stated: " the muscles were to strong and too unpleaseant - exagerated in the manner of the sculptor Bandinelli (1488-1569)."

The exgaggerated muscles on were probably done intentionally by Michelangelo so they would show up on the tiny plaquette. If the muscles were highly fininshed your probably would not be able to see the muscles. But since they are raised, as this is a relief, you are able to see there are muscluar men in the plaque. Which was Michelangelo's intention, since he was trying to depict the muscular Herucles and Atlas holding up the world. To lift up the planet you need some big muscles to do the job. But then again, Thode would not have known this since he was not a artist, but a art expert, a wanabee artist.

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This terracotta model was part of the Von Praun collection which was sold at the Christies auction in 1938. It was sold to a Dr. Morgenroth who collected European Reanissance Medilions. Dr. Morgenroth gave his medals collection to the Uviversity of Santa Barbara in 1963. Morgenroth's collection started the Unvirsity Gallery. Mr. Thode did not check the paper work on the Von Praun collection which was solid going back to Michelangelo time. Instead he just compared the features of this terracotta model to statues that Michelangelo had made. And found that this model did not resemble Michelangelo's statues. And therefore, was not a real Michelangelo.

When I visited this model it was displayed unlabeled next to a sharks tooth and a seashell. Obviously, the curator, had no idea the value of this model or what it is. At the very least the curator could have labeled the model as a Michelangelo comming from the Von Praun Collection and sold at the 1938 Christie auction to a the founding father of the art museum whom the museum is named after...Dr Morgenroth.

Quote from Vasari showing Michelangelo gave the plaque to Lioni....

"..When Pius V became pope, he showed Michael Angelo much favour, and employed him in many works, particularly in making the design of a monument for the Marquis Marignano, his brother. The work was entrusted by his Holiness to Lione Lioni, a great friend of Michael Angelo's, and about the same time Lione pourtrayed Michael Angelo on a medallion, putting at his wish on the reverse a blind man led by a dog, with the words, "Docebo iniquos vias tuas, et impii ad te convertentur," and because the thing pleased him much, Michael Angelo gave him a model in wax of Hercules and Antaus. There are only two painted portraits of Michael Angelo, the one by Bugiardini and the other by Jacopo del Conte, besides one in bronze by Daniello Ricciarelli, and this one of Lione's, of which there have been so many copies made that I have seen a great number in Italy and elsewhere."