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Maker/s

Briot, Nicholas (die-engraver)

London (mint)

Category

medal

Name

medals (Series)

commemorative (subseries)

Material/s

silver

Dimensions

height: (object): 53 mm
width: (object): 42 mm

Date

1625

Provenance

bought: Morton & Eden Ltd 2003-05-21 (Filtered for: Coins and Medals)

Morton and Eden sale 4 (21 May 2003), lot 1133; ex Christies 17 Feb. 1981, lot 358.

Inscriptions/Marks

  1. marginal inscription
    Position: obverse
    Content: LVCIA HARINGHTON COM BEDFOR
    Description: bust left wearing coronet ruff and plume of heron feathers
  2. marginal inscription
    Position: reverse
    Content: IVDICIO NON METV
    Description: serpent with tail coiled around its head

Description

Lucy Harington, wife of the 3rd duke of Bedford, was one of the most interesting and vivacious women in court circles. She was a friend of James I’s queen, Anne of Denmark, and daughter, Elizabeth of Bohemia, and a patroness of John Donne, Ben Jonson and Indigo Jones, who designed a number of Masque costumes for her. A portrait at Woburn Abbey shows her in one of these, wearing a plume of heron feathers similar to that shown on the medal. The medal of Lucy Harington is only known from this piece, which may well have been the sole specimen produced for presentation to the sitter. It was unknown to Hawkins (Medallic Illustrations), and first surfaced in 1981 at a Christies sale (London, 17 February 1981, lot 358). The medal complements the Fitzwilliam Museum’s superb miniature by Oliver showing a half-length figure plausibly identified as Lucy Harington. Nicholas Briot (c.1579-c.1646) was a celebrated French coin engraver, medallist and inventor of minting machinery. He held the post of engraver-general at the Paris mint (1606-25), but in Summer 1625 moved to Britain where he became the principal die engraver at the Royal Mint and master of the mint in Edinburgh (1635-9). During the Civil War he was attached to the king’s court. This silver medal, produced shortly after his arrival in England, is of an exquisite quality that only Briot was capable of at this period.

Production Notes

unique and unpublished

Production Place

London (mint) (place)

Documentation

  1. (2005) Treasures of the Fitzwilliam Museum, London: Scala [page: 252]

Accession Number

CM.2111-2003 (Coins and Medals)
(Reference Number: 166736; Input Date: 2009-02-24 / Last Edit: 2010-05-13)

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