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Medallion

Medallion

  • Place of origin:

    Limoges (made)

  • Date:

    13th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Copper-gilt, enamel

  • Museum number:

    1587-1855

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This medallion exemplifies the growth of interest in heraldry and heraldic ornament in the thirteenth century. The developing interest in heraldry coincided with the increasing use of enamel on metalwork. Enamel was the only means of permanently colouring metal and was thus a crucial technique in the expression of heraldic language.

Heraldic devices such as this one were used as symbols of identity. Coats of arms also conveyed a sense of status. In England only certain individuals were given the right to bear arms by the King. Individuals often incorporated the arms of their ancestors into their heraldic devices in order to promote their position as part of an important family or dynasty.

Physical description

Medallion of copper gilt and champlevé enamel depicting a heraldic shield (gules lion rampant or) surrounded by an open work border of serpents.

Place of Origin

Limoges (made)

Date

13th century (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Copper-gilt, enamel

Dimensions

Diameter: 10.7 cm, Depth: 1.1 cm, Weight: 0.1 kg

Object history note

Purchased for £5 in 1855

Historical significance: This medallion exemplifies the growth of interest in heraldry and heraldic ornament in the thirteenth century. The developing interest in heraldry coincided with the increasing use of enamel on metalwork. Enamel was the only means of permanently colouring metal and was thus a crucial technique in the expression of heraldic language.

Heraldic devices such as this one were used as symbols of identity. Coats of arms also conveyed a sense of status. In England only certain individuals were given the right to bear arms by the King. Individuals often incorporated the arms of their ancestors into their heraldic devices in order to promote their position as part of an important family or dynasty.

Historical context note

Objects of this type were probably produced in large numbers to be fitted onto caskets of wood or leather. Small copper pins would have been struck through the holes around the edges of the object to hold it in place. Heraldic roundels such as this sometimes appeared on caskets amid similar enamel medallions depicting beasts or scenes of courtly love. The coffret de Saint Louis in the Louvre is one such example. The casket has a wooden core overlaid with tin, which is covered with enamel medallions. Coats of arms, including the heraldic shield of France, are interspersed with scenes of fantastic beasts, chivalry and romance.

Descriptive line

Copper medallion, made in Limoges, 13th century

Materials

Copper-gilt; Enamel

Techniques

Champlevé

Subjects depicted

Heraldic shields

Categories

Metalwork

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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