Prints and printmaking, £12.99
Diameter: 105.000 mm
Presented by the
Room 46: Europe 1400-1800
Cast, chased and soldered silver medal of the Holy Trinity, by Hans Reinhart the Elder
Leipzig, Germany, AD 1544
The masterpiece of a silversmith
As Lutheran beliefs became more widespread in the Holy Roman Empire, the manufacture of medals with a biblical narrative or Christian message developed. Struck religious medals were produced in large quantities at the Saxon mints connected to the mines of Annaberg and Schneeberg, possible because of the new large supplies of silver. Though Maurice, duke of Saxony (1541-53), had converted to Protestantism, he was careful not to set himself up against the Catholic Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (1519-56), in whose gift was the Electorship of Saxony.
This, the celebrated Trinity medal, was intended to celebrate a point of unity between the Catholic and Protestant churches. Both took their concept of the Trinity from the Athanasian Creed, the first lines of which form part of the reverse inscription. The type of the figure of God the Father was copied from a sandstone sculpture by Hans Witten in Annaberg.
Reinhart (about 1510-81) started his career as a cabinetmaker and made twenty-six signed portrait and biblical medals between 1535 and 1544. His approach was experimental, making extensive use of soldering for decorative effect or to maximise the relief. This medal elaborately combines separately cast pieces. Despite his use of their techniques, he was excluded from the goldsmiths' guild in Leipzig, where he had become a citizen in 1539, until 1547, after five years mature apprenticeship to Jörg Trentler. He made no more medals after that date.
J. Chipps Smith, German sculpture of the Later (Princeton University Press, 1994)
M. Trusted, German Renaissance medals: a c (London, 1990)