Cameo cutter and medallist Benedetto Pistrucci was born on 24 May 1783 in Rome. He was trained by Nicola Morelli. At Rome’s Scuola del Nudo (school of figure drawing), where both drawing and modelling were taught, he took the first prize for sculpture in 1800.
Having spent some time in Paris, he moved to London in December 1815 where he was introduced to Joseph Banks, President of the Royal Society. Banks commissioned three cameo heads of George III to be shown to Wellesley Pole, Master of the Royal Mint. In September 1817, Pistrucci was offered the post of resident Chief Engraver at the Mint. Although the offer was not confirmed because of his status as an alien, he took up residence at the Tower of London (where the Mint had been housed since 1279).
He produced models and dies for the gold and silver re-coinage of George III and the new coinage of George IV. He made fourteen medals altogether, of which his Waterloo memorial medal is considered a masterpiece. He regarded himself first and foremost a cameo maker. Eighty-one cameos are documented, of which only forty-eight have been found. He was also a monumental sculptor and eleven signed portrait busts by him are recorded, including one of the Duke of Wellington (1832). Benedetto Pistrucci died at his home, Flora Lodge, Englefield Green (near Windsor) in September 1855.