Fact or Political Fiction: Portrait Medals of the Warrior Pope, lecture by Dr. James Fishburne

Event Date: 

Thursday, October 27, 2022 - 5:30pm to 7:00pm

Event Price: 

Free and open to the public.

Event Contact: 

Gods, Glory & Spirituality Lecture Series

Lecture Recording Now Available

Click to watch the lecture (October 27, 2022):


This presentation examines how Pope Julius II used coins and portrait medals as a means of crafting politically expedient narratives about the role of the papacy and his own personal identity. The pontiff relied on numismatic media to essentially counterfeit a history of his reign, which lasted from 1503 to 1513. Unlike most forms of propaganda, the messages were intended for his contemporaries as well as viewers in the distant future. 

James Fishburne is the Director of Forest Lawn Museum. In 2014 he earned his Ph.D. in Italian Renaissance art history from UCLA. His dissertation examined the political and artistic context of portrait medals in High Renaissance Rome. He has taught courses on ancient Roman, Renaissance, and Baroque art history at UCLA, Pierce College, and California State University, Long Beach. From 2015 through 2018 James worked at the Getty Research Institute where he developed and implemented programming for the Scholars Department. James joined Forest Lawn in 2018 and has curated multiple exhibitions, including "The Elevated Eye: Aerial Photography Past and Present" and “Judson Studios: Stained Glass from Gothic to Street Style.”

Image: Cristoforo Caradosso Foppa (attributed), Julius II, 1506. Cast bronze medal. British Museum G3,PMAE3.6. Image courtesy of the British Museum. CC BY-NC-SA 4.0