An elaborate gilt bronze pax of Christ in the Tomb, dated 1571, after Moderno

Image of An elaborate gilt bronze pax of Christ in the Tomb, dated 1571, after Moderno

After Galeazzo Mondella (called Moderno)
Probably Milan, Italy; 1571
Bronze; 123.8 x 195.2 mm

The present pax, featuring a relief of the Dead Christ supported by Mary and John, is cast from a model conceived by Moderno for Francesco II Sforza, the Duke of Mantua in 1513. The original silhouetted silver relief is preserved at the Diocesan Museum of Mantua on a pax dated that year.

The relief was Moderno's most successful design, and is known by more than 300 surviving casts of varying quality and from various regions and periods of facture.

The present pax, cast in 1571 (dated on the reverse), is an exceptional surviving aftercast of Moderno's design. A high degree of finishing and afterwork have been applied to the relief by an expert goldsmith's hand.

The lower frieze along the base features the central armorial of a family, probably the donor of the pax to a church, with reference to their name Gio(vani) Gia(como). The initials are beautifully chiseled into the bronze with an elaborate punchwork texture applied around it.

The elegant frame of this pax, with lion's feet supporting its base and thinly worked silhouetted scrolling acanthi flanking its sides, are characteristics common to paxes produced in Milan during the 16th century by superb craftsmen.

This unique pax is known by only one other aftercast example that lacks a donor's name but features similarly qualified workmanship with respect to the finishing of its fine details. Overall, this pax is a unique and elaborately intricate example uncommon in commerce.

Condition: Beautifully gilt. Slightly rubbed gilding. Casting flaw or damages causing an irregular edge along the base. Crack along the lower left margin of the base, the reverse of the upper frieze and along the lower left foliate with later soldered repairs to the reverse. Broken and missing central and flanking finials once surmounting the pax. The date, 1571, carved into the original wax model with a stylus and preserved on the finished cast bronze.