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Bona Sforza

Popularization note

Among medallists associated with Poland was the Dutch artist Steven van Herwijck. He was born around 1530 in Utrecht. Initially, he was educated in Italy, from where he returned to his homeland in 1558. He settled in his native Utrecht, later in Amsterdam. It is possible that in 1561 he visited Poland for a short time, seeking protection against religious persecution in the Netherlands. The following year he undoubtedly lived in England, where he spent two years before returning to his homeland again. Between 1564 and 1565 he stayed successively in Utrecht, then in Amsterdam. In 1565, he again went to England, where he died in 1567 at the age of about thirty-seven.

Steven van Herwijck's work came when Renaissance art was giving way to new Baroque modes of expression. The Dutch artist was a representative of the early Baroque, known as Mannerism. He is known mainly as a medallist and engraver. In his works, he immortalised significant figures, among them Elizabeth I, Queen of England. In Poland, he portrayed the royal family. There are seven known medals by Steven van Herwijck depicting Sigismund I the Old and Queen Bona and their children: Sigismund Augustus with his wife Catherine of Austria, Izabella with her husband Jan Zygmunt Zapolya and Anna. Most of them are one-sided medals.

One of them is the presented work depicting Queen Bona. The artist was undoubtedly inspired by a slightly earlier portrait of her by Lucas Cranach the Younger. The same was the case with most other medals with the image of the royal family. Only some of them were designed by the artist. The medals devoted to the family of Sigismund the Old were originally created in lead, which is a very soft material. It allowed the artist to model the image in an extremely subtle way. The presented relic presenting Queen Bona is one of numerous later copies usually made in less plastic bronze, silver or – as in this case – copper, which takes away some of the delicacy of the depiction. It is difficult to determine when the presented copy was made. The assessment is additionally made difficult by traces of damage to the object in the form of remnants of numerous folds.

Leszek Poniewozik

Information about the object

Information about this object

Author / creator

Herwijck (Hartwijck), Steven Cornelisz van (1530-1567) (medalist)


cały obiekt: width: 86,5 mm

Object type

one-sided medal





Creation time / dating


Creation / finding place

powstanie: Poland (Europe)


The National Museum in Lublin

Identification number


Location / status

object is not displayed now

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