Lot Archive


№ 291


31 January 1996

Estimate: £500–£700

Netherlands, George, Count of Egmont and Bishop of Utrecht, Aged 54, 1558, a cast uniface lead portrait medal by Steven van Herwijck, half-length figure to left in biretta, wearing robes and holding gloves, 146mm (v.L. I, 46; Van Mieris II, 403; KPK 153-4; Simonis p.192; BDM VII, 446). A very fine aftercast with slight ‘crispening up’ of the legends, believed to be late 16th or early 17th century, but nevertheless extremely rare and important (£500-700)

George, Count of Egmont (1504-59), a firm opponent of Lutheran reforms in the Netherlands, was installed as Bishop of Utrecht in 1535. The medal of him by van Herwijck is among that artist’s earliest work, produced in Utrecht in 1558; van Herwijck came to England in 1562 and 1565, where he made several medals, including one of Elizabeth I.

Six other examples of this medal have previously been published, four of which are in public collections (Belgian National Collection, lead; Archiepiscopal Museum, Utrecht, tin; Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, bronze, illustrated by Stephen K. Scher in
The Currency of Fame: Portrait medals of the Renaissance; Netherlands National Collection, Leyden, an aftercast). The remaining two specimens have both been on the market in recent times, a silver restitution or cast of somewhat later date first offered at Glendining’s, 6 June 1990, lot 648, and subsequently at Bonham’s, 27 Oct. 1995, lot 269 (£1700); and a bronze example in Sotheby’s, 30 March 1995, lot 735 (£11,000, bought by the NNC, Leyden).

At least one other uniface striking in silver, thought to be have been made
c.1600, also exists (British Museum); the present lead specimen displays many similarities with it in terms of the lettering and in other minor detail.

Illustration reduced.