Gold Bull and Seal of Charles IV

Bohemian
Medieval (Gothic)
about 1355


Object Place: Europe, Prague, Czech Republic

Dimensions

6.1 x 0.4 cm (2 3/8 x 3/16 in.)

Accession Number

57.663

Medium or Technique

Gold (99.7% gold, .3% silver, trace of copper)

On View

I. W. Colburn Chapel Gallery (Gallery 254A)

Collections

Europe

Classifications

Metalwork

Round container comprising two valves with rectangular openings at top and bottom for a silk cord; inside a red wax impression in two pieces. Cut out, struck, slots soldered on. Within two beaded bands around the circumference of the obverse is the inscription: KAROLUS.QUARTUS.DIVINA.FAVENTE.CLEMENCIA.ROMANOR[UM].IMPERATOR.SEMP[ER] AUGUSTUS (continuing on the upper left of the central field is ET.BOE and, on the upper right of the same field, MIE.REX.). Seated frontally on a backless throne, Charles IV wears coronation robes and the imperial bowed crown surmounted by a cross that projects into the inscription band. He has a narrow face with prominent eyes, moustache, short beard, and long curly hair. Holding an orb with a cross in his left hand and a foliate scepter in his right, he sits with his feet on a foreshortened platform that protrudes slightly. Flanking the throne - a rectangular base pierced with “windows” containing tracery and a flat panel on which are two cross-hatched cushions - are two shields: that on the right representing the Bohemian rampant lion and that on the left showing the imperial eagle. Thin sheets of metal, bent to form rectangular conduits contiguous with holes of the same shape in the top and bottom, are soldered to the inside. Two small gold pins are placed through the upper conduit. Around the perimeter of the reverse between two beaded bands is the inscription: ROMA.CAPVT.MVNDI.REGIT.ORBIS.FRENA.ROTVNDI. A multistoried gabled building with pointed windows showing gothic tracery has a central arch surrounding the inscription AUR/EA.R/OMA. To either side is a round tower with a domed roof surmounted by a cross. A rectangular conduit in line with those on the other valve is soldered to the center of the inside.

Provenance

By 1957, Münzen and Medaillen A.G., Basel; 1957, sold by Münzen and Medaillen to the MFA for $5,000. (Accession Date: October 9, 1957)

Credit Line

Theodora Wilbour Fund in memory of Zoë Wilbour