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Gnadenpfennig
  • Gnadenpfennig
    Maler, Valentin, born 1540 - died 1603
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Gnadenpfennig

  • Place of origin:

    Germany (made)

  • Date:

    1572 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Maler, Valentin, born 1540 - died 1603 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silver-gilt and gold, enamelled in white, opaque blue, translucent red, green and blue and hung with pearls

  • Credit Line:

    Salting Bequest

  • Museum number:

    M.548-1910

  • Gallery location:

    Jewellery, Rooms 91, The William and Judith Bollinger Gallery, case 7, shelf A, box 6

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.

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.

Place of Origin

Germany (made)

Date

1572 (made)

Artist/maker

Maler, Valentin, born 1540 - died 1603 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Silver-gilt and gold, enamelled in white, opaque blue, translucent red, green and blue and hung with pearls

Marks and inscriptions

WILHELMUS D: G COM: PALA: RHE: BA: DUX

VINCIT VIM VIRTUS ANNO 1572
virtue defeats violence - year 1572

Dimensions

Height: 10.8 cm, Width: 5.8 cm, Depth: 0.7 cm

Object history note

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

Historical context note

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).

Descriptive line

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.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

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

Labels and date

' 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]

Materials

Gold; Enamel; Pearl

Techniques

Enamelled; Cast; Chased

Categories

Jewellery; Metalwork

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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