Two Florentine Baroque Medals of Francesco Redi by Massimiliano Soldani
Bronze, 87.9 mm Ø, 187.8 g
Obverse: Bust of Francesco Redi facing right, with long curly hair and draped cloak. Around, FRANCISCVS · REDI · PATRITIVS · ARETINVS · (Francesco Redi, Patrician of Arezzo). Beneath the bust, M · SOLD · 1684 .
Reverse: Bacchus standing, holding a cup in his right hand and a thyrsus in his left. To the right, Silenus rides on the back of a donkey. In the background and foreground, a number of bacchants and satyrs dance, play instruments, and drink. In exergue, CANEBAM (I Was Singing).
References: Pollard 2007, no. 854; Vannel and Toderi 1987, no. 36
Bronze, 88.4 mm Ø, 157.8 g
Obverse: Same as above.
Reverse: Eternity, veiled, sitting at left with her left foot on a globe, handing a laurel wreath to Minerva, who kneels on top of Time, represented as a winged old man with a scythe. In the background, two columns supporting an architrave on which is written AETERNITATI (Eternity), topped by a snake biting its tail. To the right, ÆRE · PEREMNIVS (More Lasting Than Bronze). In exergue, M · S · F · 1685 .
References: Vannel and Toderi 1987, no. 38
Francesco Redi was born in Arezzo on February 18, 1626. He attended the University of Pisa and received doctoral degrees in both medicine and philosophy in 1647. He performed research and experiments in the fields of toxicology, entomology, and parasitology. In a famous series of experiments, he refuted the idea of spontaneous generation by showing that maggots do not arise spontaneously from rotting meat. He also wrote the dithyramb Bacco in Toscana (Bacchus in Tuscany), which was published in 1685. Redi died on March 1, 1697, in Pisa.
The first medal was commissioned by Cosimo III de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, and relates to Redi's epic poem Bacco in Toscana. Considered one of the finest works of Italian poetry from the 17th century, the dithyramb has Bacchus himself praising the wines and writers of Tuscany. Vannel and Toderi consider this the most successful medal made by Soldani, and perhaps the most beautiful of all the Florentine baroque medals.
The reverse design of the second medal can be interpreted that Redi's fame will live on for eternity. Eternity gives the laurel wreath, a symbol of triumph, to Minerva, the goddess of wisdom, who kneels on a fallen Old Man Time. Additionally, the ouroboros, an ancient symbol of a snake biting its own tail, is a symbol of eternity, representing the infinite cycle of life and death.