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Plaquette - The Fall of Phaeton

The Fall of Phaeton

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Italy (north, made)

  • Date:

    late 15th century to early 16th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Moderno (medallist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gilt bronze

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This gilt bronze Medallion Plaque is made by Moderno, in North Italy in the late 15th or early 16th century.

It represents the story of the Fall of Phaeton. In literature it is also suggested to represent the Death of Hippolytus.

Moderno is the pseudonym of a goldsmith and medallist active in North Italy and later in Rome. He signed certain pieces of his work with OPUS MODERNI (opus is the Latin term for 'work' - which then means 'work of the modern'). The modern here is referring to the Ancient World, in contrary to the Naturalism of the Gothic. He was active in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. His earliest works may date around 1485-1490, and his earliest dated work is 1490.

There are many different suggestions in literature to whom OPUS MODERNI may refer, and there has never been a clear answer to it.

Physical description

Medallion depicts the fall of Phaeton. Phaeton falls headlong to the ground out of the shattered chariot, in the middle of four wildly plunging horses. In the background are the wooded banks of the river Eridanus.

Place of Origin

Italy (north, made)


late 15th century to early 16th century (made)


Moderno (medallist)

Materials and Techniques

Gilt bronze


Diameter: 10.55 cm

Object history note

Acquired in London

Descriptive line

Medallion plaque, bronze gilt, the Fall of Phaeton, by Moderno, North-Italy, late 15th or early 16th century

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

Inventory of Art Objects Acquired in the Year 1860. In: Inventory of the Objects in the Art Division of the Museum at South Kensington, Arranged According to the Dates of their Acquisition. Vol I. London: Printed by George E. Eyre and William Spottiswoode for H.M.S.O., 1868, p. 28
Pope-Hennessy, John. Renaissance Bronzes from the Samuel H. Kress Collection. Reliefs - Plaquettes - Statuettes - Utensils and Mortars . London: 1965, pp. 49-50, no 160, fig 168
Lewis, Douglas. 'The Plaquettes of "Moderno" and his "Followers". In: Studies in the History of Art, Vol. 22, Italian Plaquettes, Washington, 1989, pp. 105-142, see pp. 125-126
Maclagan, Eric. Catalogue of Italian Plaquettes . London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1924, p. 33
Wixom, William D. Renaissance Bronzes from Ohio Collections, Cleveland Museum of Art, 1975, no 47


Gilt bronze



Subjects depicted

Horses; Trees; River; Chariot


Medallions; Plaques & Plaquettes; Myths & Legends


Sculpture Collection

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