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Plaquette - A Bacchic Sacrifice

A Bacchic Sacrifice

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Italy (made)

  • Date:

    first half 16th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Belli, Valerio, born 1468 - died 1546 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Cast bronze

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This oval bronze plaquette, depicting a Bacchic sacrifice is made by Valerio Belli, in the first half of the 16th century. It was apparently moulded from an impression of a crystal engraved in imitation of the antique.

Valerio Belli (1468-1546) was born into a respected Vicentine family. He trained as a goldsmith and developed considerable skills in engraving crystals and dies. For Pope Clement VII he created his masterpiece, a crystal casket with 24 scenes from the life of Christ, now in the Palazzo Pitti in Florence. Belli was strongly influenced by Raphael and Michelangelo. He had a facility to work very quickly, and Vasari noted that Belli had flooded the world with his works.

Plaquettes are small plaques made of bronze, brass, lead or precious metals. They originated in the 1440s with the desire to reproduce coins and hardstone engravings from ancient Greece and Rome. Some were made as collector's pieces, to be viewed and displayed in private, and others for practical purposes. They also inspired designs in other media, from architecture to bookbindings.

Physical description

Plaquette depicts: a cylindrical altar with figures of a man and a woman, both draped. A bacchante, with flying draperies, advances from the left to a flaming altar behind which stands another bacchante. To the right leans a thyrsus. Narrow moulded rim.

Place of Origin

Italy (made)


first half 16th century (made)


Belli, Valerio, born 1468 - died 1546 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Cast bronze


Height: 4.4 cm, Width: 3.65 cm

Object history note

Apparently moulded from an impression of a crystal engraved in imitation of the antique.
Acquired in London.

Descriptive line

Plaquette, bronze, A Bacchic Sacrifice, by Valerio Belli, Italy, first half 16th century

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

Inventory of Works of Art Acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum in the Years 1903 - 1904. In: List of Works of Art Acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum, During the Year 1904, Arranged According to the Dates of Acquisition with Appendix and Indices. London: Printed for His Majesty's Stationery Office, by Wyman and Sons, Limited, 1908, p. 161
Maclagan, Eric. Catalogue of Italian Plaquettes . London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1924, p. 65





Subjects depicted

Sacrifice; Man; Figures; Woman; Altar


Religion; Plaques & Plaquettes; Metalwork; Sculpture; Myths & Legends


Sculpture Collection

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