Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Trinity Medal

  • Object:

    Medal

  • Place of origin:

    Leipzig (city) (made)

  • Date:

    1569 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Reinhart, Hans the Elder (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Silver, cast, chased and soldered.

  • Museum number:

    4053-1856

  • Gallery location:

    Medieval & Renaissance, Room 62, The Foyle Foundation Gallery, case 7

Physical description

The obverse shows the Crucifixion represented in the Gnadenstuhl ('throne of grace') manner: God the Father is shown enthroned behind the crucified Christ. The medal has a border of leaves and fruit on the obverse and reverse. On the reverse is a shield containing an inscription supported by two angels.

Place of Origin

Leipzig (city) (made)

Date

1569 (made)

Artist/maker

Reinhart, Hans the Elder (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Silver, cast, chased and soldered.

Marks and inscriptions

PROPTER x SCELVS POPVLI x MEI PERCVSSI : EVM ESAIÆ LIII
Because of the wickedness of my people I killed him Isaiah 53
The Latin text borders the obverse, which has the image of God the Father and the crucified Christ. The verse is from the Old Testament book of the prophet Isaiah, chapter 53, verse 8.

[Coat of arms of the Duke of Saxony] REGNANTE . D[omine] . AVGVSTO . D[ei] : G[ratia] . DVCE . SAXONIÆ zc GROSSVM HVNC . LIPSIÆ H [ans] R[einhart] : CVDEBAT : ANo . M . D. LXVIIII . MENSE . IANV :
During the Reign of Lord Augustus by the Grace of God Duke of Saxony etc H[ans] R[einhart] of Leipzig struck this coin in the year 1569 in the month of January
The text is in Latin and runs around the medal, immediately below the border of leaves and fruit. The abbreviation 'zc' corresponds to the Latin 'et caetera'; a 'grossus', the term that Reinhart uses to refer to his medal, is a type of medieval coin known as a groat and which contained an element of silver.

HÆC EST FIDES CATHOLICA, VT .VNVM DEVM IN TRINI,TATE, ET TRINITATEM, IN VNITATE, VENEREMVR, ALIA EST PERSONA PATRIS, ALIA FILII, ALIA SPIRITVS SANCTI, SED PATRIS ET FILII ET SPIRITVS SANCTI, VNA EST DIVINITAS, ÆQVALIS GLORIA, COETERNA MAIESTAS O VENERA[N]DA VNITAS O ADORANDA TRINITAS, PER TE SVMVS CREATI, VERA AETERNITAS, PER TE SVMVS REDEMPTI SVMMA TV CHARITAS, TE ADORAMVS OMNIPOTENS, TIBI CANIMVS, TIBI LAVS ET GLORIA
This is the Catholic faith: that we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity, one is the person of the father, one is the son, one is the holy ghost, but of the father and of the son and of the holy ghost, one is divine, the glory equal and the majesty coeternal. O unity to be worshipped, o Trinity to be adored, through you we are created, true eternity, through you we are redeemed, you the highest charity, we worship you omnipotent, to you we sing, to you praise and glory.
Latin; reverse of medal, in the shield

Dimensions

Diameter: 116 mm, Weight: 329.9 g

Object history note

Hans Reinhart, who made this medal, became a citizen of Leipzig in 1539. He was active as a goldsmith, and produced coins, spoons, belts and daggers as well as medals. He died in 1581. The Museum purchased this medal in 1856 for £25.

Historical significance: The medal is of extremely high quality, although the style and technical skill of Reinhart's workmanship have not always been appreciated. G.F.Hill, writing in 1920, judged the piece 'a monstrosity', and Reinhart's works 'an awful example of the deplorably bad taste of which the school [ie. the German school] was capable' (Hill: 1920, p.117). Originally struck for Maurice, Duke of Saxony, in 1544, the five subsequent variants illustrate the activity and suggest the influence of Reinhart's Leipzig workshop on contemporaries.

Historical context note

Sixteenth-century medals were often struck to commemorate a person , or to celebrate a particular personal or political event. They were could be presented as gifts to friends or to important visitors. This medal, made for Augustus, Duke of Saxony, represents the fifth of six versions of the medal made by Reinhart in the period 1544 to 1574. The first version had been commissioned by Augustus's predecessor, Maurice, shortly before Maurice's confrontation with the Emperor Charles V on the grounds of religious difference.(Maurice was one of the leaders of the Schmalkaldic League, a group of Protestant princes and cities opposed to the catholic Emperor Charles V.) The texts and images on this medal combine catholic and protestant beliefs about the Trinity and God's incarnation. For example, the first part of the inscription on the shield on the reverse (up to MAIESTAS) is from the Athanasian Creed, a statement of the main points of Christian faith which focusses on the Trinity and the Incarnation, and which protestant reformers (especially followers of Martin Luther) accepted unreservedly. The remaining text is from a traditional church hymn on the sanctity of the Trinity ('Benedicta sit semper sancta Trinitas' - 'May the Holy Trinity be forever Blessed') and is found in various manuscripts from the eleventh century onwards. It is also included in the second book of the treatise on music by the Swiss scholar and church reformer (though not a protestant) Henricus Glareanus (Dodecachordon (Basel: 1547)). It may be, therefore, that the medal was seen by both Maurice and Augustus as a suitable gift to affirm protestant ideals without alienating catholics.
Medals were also collected during this period as a sign of erudition and culture. They could be stored in boxes or specially-made cabinets, or suspended from loops on a wall. The hole and loop added to this finely-wrought example show it was suspended during a stage in its history, admired perhaps as much for the skill of its workmanship as the spiritual and political values it commemorates.

Descriptive line

Silver, Leipzig (Eastern Germany), 1569, Hans Reinhart the Elder

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

Trusted, Marjorie. German Renaissance Medals: A Catalogue of the Collection in the Victoria & Albert Museum. Victoria & Albert Museum, 1990. 128p., ill. ISBN 1851770135.
Syson, Luke. Holes and Loops: The Display and Collection of Medals in Renaissance Italy. Journal of Design History (Special Issue: Approaches to Renaissance Consumption. 2002, vol. 15.4, pp.229-244
Flaten, Arne R. Identity and the display of medaglie in Renaissance and Baroque Europe. Word and Image January - June 2003, vol. 19.1-2, pp.59-73
Börner, Lore. Deutsche Medaillenkleinode des 16. und 17. Jahrhunderts. Leipzig: Edition Leipzig, 1981. 176 pp, ill.
Hill, G. F. Medals of the Renaissance. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1920)
Cross, F. L. and E. A. Livingstone, eds. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997. Third edition. 1786 p. ISBN 019211655X
The Michael Hall Collection: Medallic Portraits from the Renaissance to the Nineteenth Century. Part One, catalogue compiled by Daniel Fearon, Baldwin's Auctions, London, 4 May 2010.
Morton, James. Commemorative medals. Silver Society Journal, vol. 5, 1994. pp. 212-16

Labels and date

Medallion. Silver chased. Obv., representation of the Trinity, in high relief, with a legand from Isa. 53; rev., a long inscription consisting of extracts from the Athanasian creed. German. Dated 1569. Bearing the monogram of Heinrich Ritz, of Leipzig. Diam. 4.5 in. Bought, 25 l [1856]
Medal depicting the Trinity
Dated 1569
Hans Reinhart the Elder (active 1539 - 1581)

Augustus, Duke of Saxony, commissioned this medal. It may have been a diplomatic attempt to affirm his Protestant beliefs to Catholic opponents. Its material and workmanship would also appeal to a collector. Ferdinand II displayed precious devotional pieces, such as 'a small altarpiece with a silvered board and small devotional figures decorated with gilded silk flowers', in his Innsbruck Kunstkammer.
[60 words]

Germany, Leipzig
Silver
Inscribed on the obverse with a text from Isaiah 53.8; on the reverse a statement of the Catholic faith and hymn to the Trinity, and Reinhart's signature.
Museum no. 4053-1856 [2010]

Materials

Silver

Techniques

Casting; Chasing; Soldering

Subjects depicted

Orb; Shield; Deity; Angel; Sceptre; Throne; Crown; Wreath; Leaf; Crosses (objects); Escutcheon (coat of arms); Fruit

Categories

Coins & Medals; Christianity

Collection

Metalwork Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.