Seen wearing a laurel wreathed and dragon crested Corinthian helmet. Highly detailed and finely cast, neo-classical image of Minerva. Now mounted in a gilt frame with ribbed scarlet silk ground to medallion displayed within a rosewood cross banded surround.
Continental, probably Italian, circa 1750 - 1800
Frame Height 9.75” (25cm) Width 7.75” (20cm)
Medallion Height 5” (12.5cm) Width 3.75” (9.5cm)
Stock No. 1170
Minerva was the goddess of many disciplines including Wisdom, War , the Arts, Civilization, Law and Justice and Strategy. Her emblems include the cock, owl and dragon, the latter traditionally being considered sacred to her. Plaquettes or medallions originated in the 15th century and became popular by imitating images from coins and hard stone intaglios and engravings from ancient Greece and Rome. They were used to decorate inkstands and caskets etc. Ormolu is an 18th century technique of applying a finely ground gold-mercury amalgam to a bronze object and then exposing it to extreme heat until the mercury burns off leaving the gold intact. The collecting of such medallions became popular in the 18th century at a time when the famous gem engravers such as Marchant and Tassie were recreating the images from classical mythology either on semi-precious hard stone or in paste. In his book ”A Classical Dictionary” (1809) about mythological characters, John Lempriere states: “In some medals, a chariot drawn by four horses or sometimes a dragon or a serpent with winding spires appear at the top of her (Minerva’s) helmet,”