The project investigates the role played by casts of ancient coins in the reception of classical antiquity in the late 18th ‒ early 19th centuries. It focuses on a group 502 casts taken from ancient Greek and Roman coins and medallions and their handwritten catalogues, which partly reproduce specimens kept in the Vatican collection before is was plundered by the French troops in 1798.
The project investigates the role played by casts of ancient coins in the reception of classical antiquity in the late 18th ‒ early 19th centuries. In this period, casts of ancient artifacts, especially sculptures and gems, but also coins, became very popular among the many foreign travelers visiting Italy. Produced in great quantities, these objects had a huge impact on European society as they allowed the study of the ancient world outside of Italy, but also influenced Neoclassical taste in art and architecture. Until now, research has focused on sets of casts of ancient gems and plaster casts of Greek and Roman sculpture, whereas sets reproducing ancient coins have remained somewhat unexplored.
In addition to sets of coin casts known from published sources, the project takes into account new evidence appeared in 2018: a group of 502 casts from Greek and Roman coins and medallions and their handwritten catalogues. Some of the casts reproduce specimens kept in the Vatican prior to 1798, when the collection was plundered by the French Republican troops commanded by Napoleon Bonaparte.
Preliminary research has allowed linking the new material made available in 2018 to the figure of the Roman archaeologist Filippo Aurelio Visconti (1754‒1831) and reconstructing his key role in the production of this and other similar sets. Archival documents connected with Visconti and the making of his sets of casts provide the rare opportunity to complement physical evidence of the objects with handwritten documents, allowing the material to be studied in a wider context.