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Medal in Commemoration of the Battle of Waterloo, 1815

Benedetto Pistrucci

Copper, electrotype Diam 132 mm

Benedetto Pistrucci, a British medallist of Italian extraction, spent some thirty years making medals in commemoration of the victories of Europe's combined forces over Napoleon. Gold examples were to be presented to the four allied monarchs and two silver examples to Field Marshal Blucher and the Duke of Wellington. Due to his many other commissions Pistrucci was only able to finish engraving the dies in 1849, by which time all those for whom the medal was intended, with the exception of Wellington, had already died. In the center of the obverse are portraits of King George IV of England, Emperor Franz I of Austria, and King Friederich Wilhelm of Prussia. Apollo's chariot over the portraits and the fleeing chariot of Night below them herald the victory of the forces of Good. To the right of Apollo are his companions, the goddess of the rainbow, Iris, and the god of the light wind, Zephyrus; to the left is the constellation of Gemini indicating the month of June when the battle took place. To the left and right of the central portraits are the figures of Justice and Might, and lower down, on both sides of the chariot of Night, are the goddesses of destiny, the Fates, and of vengeance, the Furies. The two horsemen accompanying Nike, the winged goddess of victory, in the center of the reverse represent Blucher and Wellington. Over them is the chariot of Zeus the Thunderer, and below are twelve serpent-legged figures of titans personifying Europe's twelve-year struggle against Napoleon. The Waterloo medal is considered one of the rarest and most important pieces in the history of medallic art.

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