- Museum number
Cast brass medal with no reverse; pierced. (whole)
Henri IV as Mars in Roman armour with a sword at his waist and a staff in his left hand clasps Marie's hand with his right. She is represented as Minerva with a shield on her left arm and her aegis hung round her neck. An eagle holds a crown over the Dauphin who has placed his right foot on the head of a dolphin and is holding his father's helmet on his knee. A shield and a pike lie on the ground behind him. (obverse)
- Production date
Diameter: 188.000 millimetres
Weight: 526.82 grammes
Thickness: 2.30 millimetres
- Curator's comments
Composition of medal:
92% Cu, 6.6% Zn, 0.2%Sn, 0.5 Pb.
This is the reverse of a medal. See registration no. 1988,0628.1 for the obverse.
Curatorial comment relating to registration nos. 1988,0628.1 (19a) and 1981,1210.1 (19b)
Original examples in good condition.
These pieces are one of a number of variants of the 1603 medal and were presumably produced for sale under the terms of the letters patent granted by Henri IV in 1603 (see registration no. G3,FrM.21).
It is interesting that Dupré should have taken the opportunity presented by the necessity for a new model from which to cast these large medallions to rethink the entire composition. Henri's pre-eminence has been much more clearly stressed on the obverse while, on the reverse, the position of the eagle in relation to the figures has been altered, Henri's stance has changed, he holds a staff rather than a pike, the Dauphin rests the helmet on his knee, the dolphin's tail has been moved to the right and Marie now has a contemporary hairstyle and an earring. The result is a stronger composition, more clearly centred on the Dauphin, which, in Mazerolle's opinion, was 'the most remarkable [of the Mars and Minerva medals] both in size and in beauty of execution' (see 3).
There is a similar piece, dated 1607, in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (bronze, 182.5 mm). Charles I seems to have owned an example of the obverse, judging by an entry in the Inventory of Goods received from Mr Wheeler belonging to the late King which reads 'Henry the 4th and a Queene in brasse in a round' (valued at £1-10-0, see 7).
(a) Cabinet des Médailles, Bibliothèque Nationale, 58 rue de Richelieu, 75084 Paris, France, cast bronze.
(b) The Wallace Collection, Hertford House, Manchester Square, London Wl, S 369 and S 370, bronze, 187 mm.
(c) The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia, inv. no. 131, iron, 185 mm.
(d) Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, California, bronze, 185 mm. (reverse). David Daniels Collection from the same master as the British Museum example and very similar to it, but with a narrower rim and unpierced.
1. T.N. Méd. Fr. II pl. 20 and 20 bis.
2. A de Montaiglon 'Médaillons des Valois' Nouvelles archives de l'Art français 1872, p.200.
3. Mazerolle II no. 643. Does not record a date beneath Henri's foot.
4. J. G. Mann Sculpture in the Wallace Collection p. 138.
5. C Maumené 'Le visage royale d'Henri IV, des médailles de Guillaume Dupré aux peintures de Rubens' Demareteion, Paris, no. 1 (1935), pp. 28-29.
6. The French Bronze 1500-1800. M Knoedler & Co, New York 1968, no. 11B. Describes and illustrates what is now the British Museum example, which then belonged to Michael Hall. It is as said to have come from the Chappé collection.
7. Walpole Society vol. 43 (1972), p246.
8. Sculpture from the David Daniels Collection no. 13.
9. Sotheby's, London, 13 December 1984, no 237.
10. Hôtel Drouot, Paris, 2 June 1988, lot N (reverse). Bronze, 190 mm, pierced. Front (including casting flaws) and back very similar to British Museum example, and obviously from the same batch of casts. Patina has been removed.
In 1603 Guillaume Dupre made a highly successful medal commemorating the birth of a son and heir to Henry IV and his queen: the Dauphin. Like this large 1605 variant, it shows the king as the God of War and Marie de' Medici as the Goddess of Wisdom, guises which have an obvious message. Between them, their son clutches a dolphin (dauphin) and around them is the legend PBOPAGO IMPEBI, 'the imperial line', an inscription copied from ancient coins of the Empress Plautilla, wife of Caracalla, recalling the intellectual origins of the medal.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2022 16 Feb – 29 May, Seville, Caixa Forum, “Human Image”
2021 - 2022 27 Apr – 16 Jan, Madrid, Caixa Forum, “Human Image”
2015-2016, 3 Dec 2015 - 27 Mar 2016, Seoul Arts Centre, Korea, The Human Image
2012/13 30 Nov-7 April, Bonn, Kunst-und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Treasures of the World's Cultures
1998 9 Feb-3 May, India, Mumbai, Sir Caswasjee Jahangir Hall, The Enduring Image
1997 13 Oct-1998 5 Jan, India, New Delhi, National Museum, The Enduring Image
- Acquisition date
- Coins and Medals
- Registration number
- C&M catalogue number
MF2 (Jones 2) (62) (19) (b)