CHIARA PRINCIPE designer of the latest Luxembourg €2 coin
- April 01, 2023
In the article devoted to the 2023 Luxembourg numismatic program (clic here), we indicated that the artist Chiara Principe, an engraver well known to euro collectors, had produced several coins for the BCL ( Central Bank of Luxembourg). NUMISMAG wanted to ask her about these different creations and how this new collaboration between the artist and the Luxembourg financial institution came about.
Chiara PRINCIPE, artist and coin designer
NUMISMAG: How did you get in touch with the BCL?
CHIARA PRINCIPE: I was contacted by BCL in October. They came to me via email via my website, asking for information on a possible collaboration for the design and modeling of some coins for their 2023 issues. They already knew me as a coin designer for my resume, and they wanted to know more about my way of working, the various working phases, delivery times, and conditions. They immediately showed great interest and in November I received my first assignment, precisely the 2 euro coin just issued.
Proof of Grand Duke Henri’s face in plasticine
NUMISMAG: What photos or documents representing the Grand Duke inspired you for €2 commemorative coin?
CHIARA PRINCIPE: The portrait of the Grand Duke was a prerogative of the composition, and the BCL provided me with a series of official high-resolution photographs to choose from. Once I had the inspiration on how I would like to set up the composition, I identified the portrait that could best integrate with the rest of the elements, and the choice fell on a semi-profile of the Grand Duke, who thus seems to look at the sporting and symbolic symbols of the anniversary celebrated.
Plaster of the coin and details of the face
NUMISMAG: What were the guidelines defined by the BCL for this project?
CHIARA PRINCIPE: The main guidelines were due to the prohibition of depicting on the coin any of the official Olympic symbols, for copyright reasons. This was a great limitation on the one hand, but on the other hand also a great stimulus for my creativity, since I found myself having to represent a precise theme without being able to use the most famous iconic symbols, which would certainly have facilitated the understanding of the coin. Especially circulation coins, in fact, carry within them the great challenge of having to be immediately legible and convey a message in an even more direct way.
For this reason, it was a great challenge but at the same time a beautiful training that forced me to invent alternative ways and to find a convincing and completely original composition. Other guidelines referred instead to the issuing authority, which provides in its circulation coins the representation of the Grand Duke Henri, by portrait or official monogram. In this specific coin, celebrating an anniversary personally linked to the Grand Duke, the portrait was certainly an essential element for the message that the coin had to convey.
Workshop drawing of the €2 coin signed by Chiara PRINCIPE
NUMISMAG: Can you explain the graphic composition of your project?
CHIARA PRINCIPE: The composition revolves around the portrait of the Grand Duke, ideally resting on three semicircles that refer to the crossing of the famous Olympic circles. Around the profile of Grand Duke Henri we find silhouettes depicting some Olympic sports, namely: javelin throw, fencing, rhythmic gymnastics, and swimming. The central silhouette, the largest one, depicts a little man holding the Olympic flame, whose body forms the number 25, referring to the anniversary that the Grand Duke celebrates as a member of the International Olympic Committee.
Final version of coin
NUMISMAG: Why did you change your signature?
CHIARA PRINCIPE: Thanks for noticing this. I wanted to redesign my initials in a more harmonious and less geometric way so that they would harmonize more with the style of my designs.
New engraver mark of Chiara PRINCIPE
NUMISMAG: A few words about your two other 2023 projects with the Luxembourg central bank?
My collaboration with the LCB started only a few months ago, but I am happy to have already designed three coins for the 2023 numismatic program, while I am already working on the 2024 issues. The next outgoing coin that will bear my signature will be published in the series “Outstanding constructions in Luxembourg”, and will be dedicated to the Cathedral of Luxembourg. The coins of this fascinating series have a unique square shape, and carry a face value of 2.5 euros: it was really interesting to try this new shape, and the realization of the plaster model of such a complex subject was a considerable but very satisfying challenge.
Visual from the official 2023 Luxembourg program
One of the things I appreciate most about the BCL approach is the choice to have the artist realize both the design and the model of the coin he/she designs, and in particular the appreciation for the traditional realization of this model, now increasingly rare. No one better than those who conceived it will be able to “bring to life” a design exactly as it was conceived, through the volumes of the bas-relief, and then of the metal.
The last coin I made for BCL celebrates an event that took place just two days ago: the birth of Prince Francois, the second son of Grand Duke Guillaume and his wife Stèphanie. I cannot reveal anything about this silver commemorative coin, but you will soon see that the coin has a decidedly modern style, perfect for celebrating such a natural and symbolic event as the birth of a child.
Sources: Chiara Principe (freelance coin designer) and NUMISMAG