[Paganini, Nicolò. (1782-1840)] Bovy, Antoine. (1795-1877)

Bronze Medal Commemorating Paganini's Paris Debut - FROM THE PAGANINI COLLECTION

1831 portrait medal of the great virtuoso by Swiss medalist Antoine Bovy, commemorating Paganini's Paris debut. Bust relief portrait medal of Paganini facing right with long neck and flowing hair, side-burns reaching to lower chin, inscribed around the image “Fama Paganini non estperitura per annos," the obverse with a soaring eagle holding a violin in its beak and clutching a bow in right claw and laurel wreaths in left claw soaring into infinity, circularly inscribed with “Parisienses praedicant et orbis, verba desunt." 2 1/8 inches (5.4 cm). Rather worn to the edge on the verso. Illustrated in Edward Neill "Nicolò Paganini: la vita attraverso le opere, i documenti e le immagini" (Genova, 1978), p. 391; Niggl no. 1553; Andorfer & Epstein N. 236. 

Paganini was in Paris during March and April 1831, where he met de Bériot, Baillot, Lablache, Rubini and Tamburini; the twenty-year old Liszt, suffering from a broken love affair and whose father had just died, came away from hearing Paganini in concert and immersed himself in transcriptions of the Caprices for piano.  "Paganini's appearance in Paris for the first time was hailed as a major event. The opening concert included his First Concerto, Sonata militare (variations on Mozart's aria ‘Non più andrai’) and the variations on ‘Nel cuor più non mi sento’, from Paisiello's La molinara. Notwithstanding the prices of admission, which were doubled, the house was crammed. The conductor was F.-A. Habeneck, who was doing much to introduce Beethoven's works to France. The reactions of the press were extremely favourable; music critics such as Castil-Blaze, Jules Janin and F.-J. Fétis were unanimous in their praise of Paganini's extraordinary style and technique." (Edward Neill, New Grove Online.)

Swiss engraver Antoine Bovy lived in Geneva and made an important contribution to the medalists' craft, inventing a new printing method which allowed medals to be made in larger sizes than had been previously possible. He is the designer of the Swiss 5-rappen, 1-franc and 2-franc coins as they still appear in circulation today, and also created several well-known commemorative medals of figures such as Calvin (on the 300th anniversary of the Reformation), Goethe, Chopin, and Liszt.

With remarkable provenance from the collection of the the eldest son of Achilles Paganini, Andrea (1844-1918), by descent through his heirs. For many years this item resided in the collection housed in the Villa Gaione di Parma: first by Achilles, then by his sons Andrea, Attila and Giovanni. In the first half of the 20th century, the Paganini collection was largely dispersed, with portions going to the Italian State (Biblioteca Casanatense in Rome), the Library of Congress in Washington, and to various private collectors. The present item has remained with the heirs until recently, when it was part of the sale of the remaining collection of the heirs of Nicolo Paganini. Sold together with xeroxed documentation from the original sale, this item and its provenance has been reviewed and authenticated by Dr. Maria Rosa Moretti, one of the world's leading authorities on Paganini.  (17213)


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