The Cloisters acquire late medieval medal connected to Jean Duc de Berry

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July 28, 2016 – Renaissance and Baroque medals from the collection of Sir Timothy Clifford, former director of the Scottish National Gallery, sold for £82,872 ($117,844) in a specialised sale of coins and medals at Morton & Eden in London on June 13, 2016. 

School of Paris, Heraclius, Byzantine Emperor (610-641). The Return of the True Cross to Jerusalem. As Lot 79, the medal was bought by The Cloisters for £21,600 (pre-sale estimated £5-10,000).

The highlight from Sir Timothy’s collection was an extremely rare French silver repoussé impression of a gold medal that formerly belonged to the important early Renaissance collector Jean Duc de Berry (1340-1416). Depicting ‘The Emperor Heraclius’s Return of the True Cross to Jerusalem’, the image became the inspiration for one of the illuminations in the famous book of hours known as the ‘Belles Heures’, itself commissioned by the Duc de Berry around 1409 and which is in the possession of The Cloisters Museum, part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York which specialises in European medieval art.

Heraclius returning the cross. From the ‘Belles Heures’, attributed to the Limbourg Brothers. The Cloisters Collection, New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The ‘Belles Heures’ has been described as one of the most celebrated manuscripts of the Middle Ages with fine illuminations attributed to the Limbourg brothers working in France in the early 15th century.

Estimated at up to £10,000 there was considerable interest shown and The Cloisters was able to acquire the medal for £21,600 ($30,715) against strong competition. Tom Eden, a director of Morton & Eden commented: “We were very pleased that this intriguing medal has found a new home in The Cloisters Museum as it very much complements the illuminated manuscript, the famous ‘Belles Heures’ which already resides there. In many ways it is the ideal place for it”.

Here you can visit the website of The Cloisters Museum. 

Please find the website of Morton & Eden Ltd here. 

And more information on the art of illumination and the ‘Belles Heures’ is available on the Metropolitan Museum’s blog.