Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Ambrogio Foppa

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99429Catholic Encyclopedia — Ambrogio FoppaGeorge Charles Williamson

Generally known as CARADOSS0.

Italian goldsmith, sculptor, and die sinker, b. at Mondonico in the province of Como, 1445, according to some authorities, and according to others in Pavia, the same year; d. about 1527. It is possible that this artist is not correctly known as Ambrogio, but that his Christian name was Cristoforo. He was in the service of Lodovico Il Moro, Duke of Milan, for some years, and executed for him an exceedingly fine medal and several pieces of goldsmith's work. Later on he is heard of in Rome, working for Popes Julius II and Leo X. His will was executed in 1526 and he is believed to have died in the following year. Cellini refers at some length to a medal struck by him in Rome, having upon it a representation of Bramante and his design for St. Peter's, and he speaks of him as "the most excellent goldsmith of that time, who has no equal in the execution of dies". He is believed to have been responsible for the terra-cotta reliefs in the sacristy of San Satiro, works which in their remarkable beauty are almost equal to the productions of Donatello. In addition to the Bramante and Moro medals three others are attributed to him, one representing Julius II, another the fourth Duke of Milan, Francesco Sforza, and the third Gian Giacomo Trivulzio (1448-1518).

A large number of examples of fine goldsmith's work in the sacristies of the various churches of Italy are attributed to Foppa with more or less uncertainty. They especially include reliquaries, morses, and crosiers. He was responsible for a papal mitre. A drawing of this tiara, made for Julius II, is in the print room at the British Museum and was executed at the instance of an English collector named John Talman. An inaccurate engraving of it by George Vertue is also in existence, and this was reproduced by Muntz in his article on the papal tiara. He declares that the pope told his master of ceremonies that it cost two hundred thousand ducats. This wonderful work of art survived the sack of Rome through the accident of its being in pawn at the time, but was deliberately broken up and refashioned by Pope Pius VI. (See Thurston in the "Burlington Magazine" for October, 1895.) Foppa is believed to have designed several perdent jewels, but there is a good deal of uncertainty at present respecting his goldsmith's work, and but little can be attributed to him with anything like authority.