For our summer fellowship, we are researching the origin and nature of the portrait medal and its history during the Renaissance. Inspired by the fascination with antiquity that arose during this period, artists intended portrait medals to be a modern revival of Ancient Roman coins. Portrait medals were popular throughout the Renaissance for those aspiring to glorify themselves as the Roman Emperors once did. Each medal is a time capsule into the great dramas of the past. The Molinari collection at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art contains an exceptional variety of medals exceeded by only a few collections in the United States. By digitizing each of the medals in the Molinari collection, we hope to make them more accessible to the public. By conducting metallurgical analysis using the Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) located in Bowdoin’s Earth and Oceanographic department, we also hope to unlock the secrets hidden behind each medal and how they shaped history.
Amber Orosco ’19 and Ben Wu’18