The Story of the British Museum, £8.99
Diameter: 60.000 mm
Gift of the Bank of England
CM Bank of England Medal 518
Room 47: Europe 1800-1900
Bronze medal of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, by Benedetto Pistrucci
London, England, AD 1841
War and politics in 19th-century Britain
Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, (1769-1852), was the commander of the British army during the Napoleonic Wars and later prime minister of Great Britain (1828-30). His first military experience was in the Mysore war in India in 1796, but his first great successes were achieved in the Peninsular War in Spain (1808-14). He was rewarded with a series of titles and honours, culminating in dukedom in 1814. His most celebrated victory was over Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo (1815). He was not a popular Prime Minister, his government collapsed after only two years following resentment over Catholic emancipation (which he approved) and voting reform (which he opposed). By 1841, when this medal was struck, Wellington was once more a respected figure, serving under his successor Sir Robert Peel as a minister without portfolio (1841-46).
Benedetto Pistrucci was an Italian gem-engraver, medallist and sculptor, who came to England in 1815. From 1816 he worked at the Royal Mint, producing coin dies for George III and George IV, and was appointed Chief Medallist in 1828, with William Wyon as Chief Engraver. He made the official coronation medals for George IV and for Victoria. Fourteen medals by Pistrucci are known, mainly private commissions. He made six portrait busts, including one of the Duke of Wellington in 1832 (Stratfield Saye House, Hampshire). A collection of 396 models in wax for medals, coins and gems is preserved in the Museo Numismatico della Zecca Italiana, Rome.