Gnadenpfennig thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Jewellery, Rooms 91, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery

Gnadenpfennig

1572 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Medals of sovereigns mounted in gold, called Gnadenpfennige in German, were traditionnally presented by the rulers as a token of their appreciation and trust. They appeared in the 1560s in Tyrol and Bavaria, and spread very quickly to all the German kingdoms. The fashion for them faded in the first quarter of the 17th c. They were worn by both men and women on long gold chains.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Silver-gilt and gold, enamelled in white, opaque blue, translucent red, green and blue and hung with pearls
Brief Description
Enamelled gold medal of Wilhelm, Count Palatine of the Rhine, set in an enamelled gold openwork frame, cast and chased and hung with pearls, attributed to Valentin Maler, Germany, dated 1572.
Physical Description
A gold enamelled medal set in an enamelled gold openwork frame, cast and chased. Enamel ornaments on both sides. The Frame hangs onto three suspension chains joining at the top in a ring. Three pearls are suspendend fromthe openwork frame at the bottom. The medal is set in a ring enamelled in white, surrounded with an openwork decoration. The scroll work decoration of green trefoils and 4 alternating white and blue rosettes, and 8 alternating red and white C-scrolls.

Medal: On the obverse, portrait bust in profile facing right, on a dark blue enamel background surrounded by an inscription. Reverse: the coat of arms of Bavaria with an inscription.
Dimensions
  • Height: 10.8cm
  • Width: 5.8cm
  • Depth: 0.7cm
Style
Marks and Inscriptions
  • WILHELMUS D: G COM: PALA: RHE: BA: DUX
  • VINCIT VIM VIRTUS ANNO 1572
Gallery Label
' GNADENPFENNIG Enamelled gold, set with an enamelled medal of Wilhelm, Count Palatine of the Rhine (1548-1626) dated 1572; hung with pearls. Spitzer collection Lent from the Salting Bequest M.548-1910' This is the full text from Bury, 1982, Case 26, n.16(1982)
Credit line
Salting Bequest
Object history
Pforzheim Exhibition RF.96/1572



Historical significance: This piece is attributed by Lore Borner to Valentin Maler (active 1567-1603) in Nuremberg. It can be compared to another Gnadenpfennig holding a gold medal of Karl II von Sigmaringen, set in a very similar mount and signed V.M. for Valentin Maler. Munzkabinett, Berlin, n.2615. cf. Borner, Lore, Deutsche Medaillenkleinode des 16. und 17. Jahrunderts, Leipzig, 1981, cat.70, p.152, ill.39



There are other known Gnadenpfennige with a medal of Wilhelm V, including :

-a Gnadenpfennig with a medal of Wilhelm V signed AN. AB. for Antonio Abondio, c.1572. Munzkabinett, Berlin, no.3371. cf. Borner, Lore, Deutsche Medaillenkleinode des 16. und 17. Jahrhunderts, Leipzig, 1981, cat.19, p.143, ill.8



-a Gnadenpfennig with a medal of Wilhelm V inscribed on the obverse: D.G.CO.PAL.RHE.BA.DUX and on the reverse: VINCIT.VIM.VIRTUS and below 1568. Munzsammlung, Munich, n.558. Cf. Borner, Lore, Deutsche Medaillenkleinode des 16. und 17. Jahrhunderts, Leipzig, 1981, cat.18, p.143



George Salting was born in Australia on 15 August 1835, the elder son of Severin Kanute Salting (1805-1865), a wealthy businessman and landowner, and Louisa Augusta, née Fiellerup. Following an education at Eton College, 1848-53, and the University of Sydney, from where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1857, Salting settled in London. In 1858-59 he toured the continent, visiting galleries, churches and architectural monuments. After the death of his father on 14 September 1865, he inherited a fortune estimated at £30,000 per annum and devoted himself thereafter to the study and collecting of works of art including lacquer and Oriental porcelain. Such was the extent of the accumulations that filled his rooms above the Thatched House Club at 86 St James's Street, London, that in 1874 Salting started to deposit items on loan in the South Kensington Museum. The Frederic Spitzer sale of Medieval and Renaissance objects d’art in 1893 resulted in a diversification of Salting’s collecting interests: Italian majolica, bronzes and reliefs, Persian, Damascas and Turkish ware, Limoges enamels, illuminated manuscripts, carved woodwork and tapestries, and Japanese lacquer and European steel and iron.



He died on 12 December 1909 and is buried in Brompton Cemetery, London. Salting bequeathed works to the National Gallery, British Museum and Victoria & Albert Museum. The Trustees of the National Gallery received those works which were already on loan and were also allowed to select those from Salting's Collection which they would like to receive. In total this amounted to 192 works. The pictures were hung in the Gallery in 1911. There were no special conditions attached to the bequest. Salting bequeathed his prints and drawings to the British Museum and a substantial number of objects to the Victoria and Albert Museum. The bequest to the V&A was conditional that the objects would not be distributed over various sections but all kept together. Including three works presented during his lifetime, there are currently 164 works in the National Gallery Collection which have been donated by Salting. In addition, thirty-one of the works bequeathed by Salting are now held by the Tate Gallery.
Historical context
Medals of sovereigns mounted in gold, called Gnadenpfennige in German, were traditionnally presented by the rulers as a token of their appreciation and trust. They appeared in the 1560s in Tyrol and Bavaria, and spread very quickly to all the German kingdoms. The fashion for them faded in the first quarter of the 17th c. They were worn by both men and women on long gold chains.



See the portrait of a woman from the Hamburger family wearing a Gnadenpfennig with a medal of Friedrich III von Holstein-Gottorp, on a chain around her neck, artist unknown, 1621 (Weimar, Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Schloss).
Subject depicted
Summary
Medals of sovereigns mounted in gold, called Gnadenpfennige in German, were traditionnally presented by the rulers as a token of their appreciation and trust. They appeared in the 1560s in Tyrol and Bavaria, and spread very quickly to all the German kingdoms. The fashion for them faded in the first quarter of the 17th c. They were worn by both men and women on long gold chains.
Bibliographic References
  • Bury, Shirley, Jewellery Gallery Summary Catalogue (Victoria and Albert Museum, 1982, p.166, Case 26, n.16
  • Princely Magnificence: Court Jewels of the Renaissance 1500-1630, London: Debrett's, 1980.
  • Borner, Lore, Deutsche Medaillenkleinode des 16. und 17. Jarhunderts, Leipzig, 1981
Collection
Accession Number
M.548-1910

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record createdMay 18, 2005
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