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Medallion

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1702 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved boxwood

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mr Philip Phillips, through The Art Fund

  • Museum number:

    W.2-1934

  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 54, case 14

Object Type
This boxwood carving, almost certainly a one-off, resembles the medallions that were widely circulated in the 17th century. This was a turbulent period in English history and medallions, usually in bronze or silver, were struck to commemorate important events or serve as propaganda. In 1691 William III ordered a medal of himself as the liberator of England, Scotland and Ireland.

Time
To his supporters, William represented the return of constitutional monarchy and the salvation of Protestantism. Thus his assumption to the throne in 1688 was hailed as the 'Glorious Revolution'. His predecessor James II represented 'popery', a derogatory term for Catholicism, and absolutism, the autocratic rule associated with Louis XIV and France.

Materials & Making
Boxwood is a close-grained hardwood particularly suited to small and intricate carving. Its colour ranges from yellow to orange-brown and when polished it develops a shiny surface. Box was then grown in south-east England and John Evelyn, in Silva: or A Discourse on Forest-Trees (1662), said it was 'of special use for the turner, engraver, carver who give great prices for it by weight, as well as measure'.

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

ca. 1702 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Carved boxwood

Dimensions

Height: 8.9 cm, Width: 5.7 cm, Depth: 1 cm

Object history note

This medallion may have been made to mark William III's death in 1702. The carving includes a winged cherub and crossed palm leaves which are symbols often associated with death. This was probably a personal memorial of the dead king, specially commissioned by its original owner.

Woodcarving, gift of Philip A S Phillips Esq, Grosvenor House, Park Lane, London W1

Notes from R.P. 1933/5104 (located in National Art Collections Fund nominal file 1933 n.b. the nominal file for Phillip A S Phillips ends with Nov. 1933 papers)

29/12/33 Gift Approval Form
lists as "Box-wood carving - Arms of William III, King of England"

11/1/34 H Clifford Smith report to Brackett
"This minute medallion, carved in high relief with the Royal Arms of William III, is a very fine piece of woodcarving, and fully worthy of acceptance".

Brackett
recommends the acceptance of "this extremely fine carving".

21/1/34 Maclagan writes Phillips
to thank him for the "charming little wood medallion…." and for this "renewed* proof of your interest in (our collections)".

Descriptive line

Medallion depicting the arms of William III, carved boxwood, ca. 1702

Labels and date

MEDALLION
ENGLISH; late 17th century
Boxwood
Bearing the coat of arms of William III. [pre October 2000]

Subjects depicted

Coats of arms

Categories

British Galleries; Woodwork; Royalty; Coins & Medals

Collection

Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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