Though Schweigger sometimes invented original compositions inspired by Renaissance examples, the present medallion is a copy of an early 16th-century wood original attributed to the circle of the great medallist Hans Schwarz. As revealed by the inscription on the reverse of both original and copy, the sitter was a 26-year-old man by the name of Jacob W., perhaps identifiable as Jacob Welser III, a member of an important Nuremberg family of merchants. Distinguished by his large, fashionable hat, the young man appears somewhat more mature and assertive in Schweigger's version of the portrait.
A comparable signature to that on the reverse is found in a portrait medallion of a woman by Schweigger, also carved in Solnhofen stone, in the Staatliche Museen in Berlin (inv. no. 7766). As Bernhard Decker (op. cit., p. 126) argues, the 'freehand' style of the inscription served to underline the status of these 17th-century Renaissance-style medallions as artistic homages and collectors' objects, rather than as models for the casting of medals.
H. Beck and B. Decker (eds.), Dürers Verwandlung in der Skulptur zwischen Renaissance und Barock, exh. cat. Liebieghaus, Frankfurt am Main, 1981
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