- Museum number
Medallion of Maximilien de Béthune, duc de Sully (1559-1641); hard-paste porcelain; circular medallion of greyish shiny appearance; moulded in relief with a portrait to left of the duc de Sully in armour and wearing a ruff; within the beaded border near the edge is a moulded inscription; maker's mark.
- Production date
Diameter: 12.80 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- Probably 'smear-glazed', ie the surface may have picked up glaze from other objects in the kiln, as it is a very thin layer.
Recent research dispels the theory that this porcelain was made at the Château de Lassay.
A note from Mavis Bimson on file (undated, but circa May 1990) says that the medallion is not hard-paste - XRD shows quartz as the major phase. The report ref BMRL 34594X is not on file - to be requested.
Text from dawson 1994:
For a biography of the duc de Sully, see cat. 156. Although this medallion has probably not been intentionally glazed, its shiny surface reveals that it has picked up a glassy substance during firing, giving it a 'smear-glazed appearance (according to X-ray refraction analysis carried out in the British Museum Research Laboratory in April 1990, in which quartz is shown as the major phase, and no mullite is apparently present, ref. BMRL 34594X. The author is grateful to Mavis Bimson for this information. The undamaged condition of the medallion inhibits sampling for further analysis. Monsieur d'Albis and Madame F. Treppoz of the Manufacture nationalede Ceramique have informed her that their analysis of medallions of Henri IV, Minerva and an unidentified man showed a large quanity of quartz in the body, with the addition of mullite. These results are unpublished, and the author is grateful for a personal communication in May 1990). Nineteenth-century white stonewares manufactured in England around 1840 are often similar in appearance.
The source of the portrait is unkown. It is slightly larger than cat. 156, and there are variations of detail, such as the leaf decoration on the armour in this example. However, because of the greater shrinkage of soft-paste porcelain, it is possible that both untimately derive from the same original. A medallion of the comte de Caylus from the Brancas-Lauraguais workshop is known to be based on a terracotta by Jean Baptiste Nini (A. Storelli, Jean-Baptiste Nini, sa vie - son oeuvre 1717-1788, Tours, 1896, p. 133) but as yet no Nini medallion of Sully has come to light.
The subject enjoyed considerable popularity at French porcelain factoriesfrom the1760s onwards and was often paired with a portrait of Henri IV, as at Mennecy and Sèvres (Thirty-one medallions of Henri IV and Sully were valued at 9 livres at the Sèvres factory inventory dated 20 january 1778. Two of reject quality were sold on 18 June 1773 for 15 livres each, MNS, Archives de Sèvres, Vy 5, f.76. A medallion of Henri IV by Brancas-Lauraguais is illustrated by Landais, 1961, p. 103, fig. 66).
for other medallionsmade at the chäteau de Lassay, see p. 291 (Dawson 1994).
- On display (G46/dc21)
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number