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Seals

Reproduction

The seal of Ugolino Grifoni, the last master of the hospital order of Saint James in Altopascio and advisor to Cosimo I de’ Medici, is conserved, in the form of an exceedingly high quality bronze matrix and impression made from sealing wax, in a family chronicle of the Grifoni, now held in the state archives of Florence. It represents an individual case among the seal matrices and impressions on view in this exhibition, which otherwise do not belong together. Therefore, one can take this opportunity to indicate specific characteristics of seals and their reproduction in the medium of digital photography. The elaborately moulded handle on the reverse of the Grifoni seal matrix clearly expresses its function as both instrument and medium of reproduction, which can produce a potentially endless number of wax impressions. The image of Saint James in a contrapposto pose is set within an elegantly coffered niche. The engraved design on the obverse of the matrix displays, recessed and inverted, what appears raised and correctly oriented in the impression. The divergent materiality of matrix and impression, their markedly different effect upon the image and the reversed image on the seal matrix, can indeed be discerned in the photographic reproduction. In one’s perception of the photograph, the incised figure on the seal matrix becomes, in a vexing way, an ambiguous figure. This phenomenon can be especially well observed in an oblique view of the seal of Teobaldo. Depending on the distribution of light one reads the recessed image alternately as concave or convex, although, based on our visual experience, the deceptive perception as relief tends to prevail.


Seal of Ugolino Grifoni (matrix and impression), 1541-76, bronze and sealing wax, 68x31 mm (ASFi, Grifoni, filza 33)

Seal of Ugolino Grifoni (matrix, obverse), 1541-76, bronze, 68x31 mm (ASFi, Grifoni, filza 33)

Seal of Ugolino Grifoni (matrix, reverse), 1541-76, bronze, 68x31 mm (ASFi, Grifoni, filza 33)

Seal of Ugolino Grifoni (impression), 1541-76, sealing wax, 68x31 mm (ASFi, Grifoni, filza 33)

Seal of Teobaldo De’ Prefetti di Vico (matrix, obverse), late 12th/early 13th century, gilded bronze, 58 mm (Florence, Bargello, inv. no. 1079)




© KHI in Florence | 20.09.2020 18:22:41