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Italian Renaissance Learning Resources

In collaboration with the National Gallery of Art


Term for a class of replicated, portable, small sculptural reliefs in metal (usually bronze) developed in Italy in the 1440s. Plaquettes were important there until the 1540s, whence the type diffused in the 16th and 17th centuries to Germany, Flanders and France. The word ‘plaquette’ was invented in France in the 1860s at the outset of the modern study of this art form; the 16th-century Italian words for the type are medaglietta and piastra, which were used generically for cap-badges, independent plaquettes and those incorporated in decorated utensils.

Douglas Lewis