Great Waterloo Medal
Designed by Benedetto Pistrucci (Italian, 1784–1855)
Diameter and weight: 137 mm (5 3/8 in.)
Medium or Technique
Not On View
Circular medal issued to commemorate the Battle of Waterloo. Hanging loop and ring and with high rim.
Obverse: Four male busts–George IV, Frederick William III, Francis II, and Alexander I–looking to proper right at center, wearing laureate wreaths and surrounded by classical deities. At top Phoebus Apollo, the sun god, in his chariot, the front of which is embillished with figures of the hours, drawn by four horses, signifying the four cardinal points of the compass; in his left hand he holds the flaming torch of breaking day–typical of the light to follow the darkness of the Napoleonic wars. Behind him is Iris, the rainbow, the messenger of the Gods, who restores peace in nature, accompanied by her winged husband, the rainbow Zephyr, scattering garlands of flowers, emblematic of peace; on the opposite side are Castor and Pollux, typifying Wellington and Blücher; a star over each signifying the Constellation of the Zodiac Gemini (the twins), toward them the Car of Day is approaching, indicating June, the month the battle of Waterloo was fought; beneath them, seated on a rock, is Themis, daughter of Heaven and Earth, the goddess of Heavenly Justice; in her right hand is a Greek sword, grounded in the Earth, date palm beyond as she was the goddess also of the rites of hospitality. She is thus placed before the allied sovereigns to show that Justice is greater than Power. Beneath her are the Fates–Birth, Years, Death; at the right hand is seated Herakles, typifying Power; under him the Furies–Tisiphone, Alekto, and Megaera–their position beneath Power denoting that they were subject to his influence. Across the lower edge is Night in a chariot without ornamentation driving two fleet mares.
Reverse: Two male warriors, Wellington and Blücher, on horseback at center, wearing classical costume and accompanied by winged victory figure between them and surrounded by scenes from the battle of the Giants: at the top is Jupiter seated in triumphal chariot holding in his right hand a thunderbolt and in his left a sceptre; with his thunderbolts he is striking down the Giants or Titans, who have attacked the heavens; they are beneath him (but occupying the remaining circumference of the medal), and number nineteen, signifying the nineteen years of the wars with Napoléon.
By 1920, Misses Louisa W. and Marian R. Case; 1920, gift of Misses Louisa W. and Marian R. Case to the MFA. (Accession Date: April 20, 1920)
Gift of the Misses Louisa W. and Marian R. Case in memory of their father James Brown Case