Ercole dei Fedeli
Ercole dei Fedeli (born c. 1465 as Salomone da Sesso, died c. 1504–21) was an Italian goldsmith and master sword engraver. His name has also been recorded as Ercole da Ferrara, da Sesso, dei Fidelis, de Fedeli or de Fedelis.
Born and raised in the Jewish tradition, he worked as a goldsmith in Ferrara, including for Eleanor of Naples, Duchess of Ferrara. After his conversion to Christianity between March and November 1491, he assumed the name "Ercole dei Fedeli" ("Hercules of the Faithful"), married a woman named Eleanor and fathered several children.
In 1504 he is last recorded as working for Isabella d'Este, the wife of Francesco II Gonzaga and duchess of Mantua. A petition from 1521 by his wife and children, which does not name him, makes it appear likely that he had died by then.
Ercole is known principally for his work as a sword engraver, as few of his other works have remained. His engravings are characterized by framing architectural arches, a great sense of movement in figurative scenes, and a very light, technically flawless stroke.
Charles Émile Yriarte (1891) and some later scholars attributed almost all Italian cinquedeas of his period to Ercole, an attribution that now appears dubious. The works now attributed to him with some certainty are:
- the cinquedea of Cesare Borgia (now at the Casa Caetani in Rome) and its scabbard (Victoria and Albert Museum in London, no. M 101.1869)
- a cinquedea in Brescia (Museo Marzoli, no. 727)
- a cinquedea in Florence (Stibbert Museum, no. 3593)
- a cinquedea in London (Royal Armouries, no. IX.146)
- a sword in Paris (Musée national du Moyen Âge, no. CL 11811)
- three swords in Vienna (Kunsthistorisches Museum, nos. A453–A455)
- a rapier in St. Petersburg (Hermitage Museum, no. B410)
- Bianco, Roberta (1993). "ERCOLE dei Fedeli (Ercole da Ferrara; Ercole da Sesso; Salomone da Sesso)". Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, Volume 43: Enzo–Fabrizi (in Italian). Rome: Istituto dell'Enciclopedia Italiana.