Cast and chased silver medal of Cardinal Richelieu by Jean Warin


British Museum

British Museum
London, United Kingdom

Jean Warin (1606-72) came from a family of engravers, goldsmiths and wax-modellers, which had been tainted by frequent attempts at coin forgery. His moral scruples seem to have been no different to those of his relations, as in 1629 he obtained his official place at the Paris Mint (where positions were usually decided through family connections) by seducing the wife of the then joint conductor of the Mint, René Olivier, and, very probably, arranging his murder in the Galerie du Louvre. This medal, made a year later, may have resulted from Warin's realization that his success could be bolstered by winning the favour of Cardinal Richelieu, the chief minister of the French king, Louis XIII. Made from two silver plates joined together, he piece is a masterpiece of modelling and casting. It reveals an extraordinary talent, which may have encouraged his patron to overlook his rather unorthodox methods of career advancement.The inscription on the reverse (back) of the medal, which translates as 'Conquered at last, I follow', is Fortune's message to France. The nude figure of Fortune is chained to the chariot of state bearing the personification of France, who is crowned by Victory, a reference to a recent successful campaign in Italy. The triumphal car is steered by Fame, who blows a trumpet from which hangs a banner with the Richelieu arms - a clear indication of who was in charge.

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  • Title: Cast and chased silver medal of Cardinal Richelieu by Jean Warin
  • Date Created: 1630/1630
  • Physical Dimensions: Diameter: 76.000mm; Diameter: 74.50mm (excluding rim); Weight: 154.35g
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Technique: cast
  • Subject: cleric; allegory/personification; classical deity
  • Registration number: G3,IP.1101
  • Production place: Made in France
  • Producer: Designed by Warin, Jean. Modelled by Warin, Jean
  • Material: silver
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Donated by George IV. Previous owner/ex-collection George III