A black basalt Portrait Medallion, Yorkshire, probably 19th century
This black basalt portrait medallion depicts the semi-legendary founder of the Roman Republic, Lucius Junius Brutus. He faces to the right within an integral oval frame. The reverse has a small recess and two holes for suspension.
Condition: Excellent – no damage or restoration.
Dimensions: Height 6 cm; Width 4.8 cm
Ref. The design is after a Wedgwood portrait medallion from circa 1768-80 (see image 8). Lucius Junius Brutus is depicted on the obverse of a 54 BC denarius minted by his ancestor and one of Julius Caesar’s assassins, Marcus Junius Brutus (image 9). This portrait clearly provided the basis for the basalt medallion.
Traditionally regarded as the founder of the Roman Republic, Brutus became one of its first consuls in 509 BC. He was responsible for the expulsion of his uncle the Roman king Tarquinius Superbus, resulting in the overthrow of the monarchy. Brutus was a hero of republicanism during the Enlightenment and Neoclassical periods, not least of all because so committed to the republican cause was he that he executed two of his sons for plotting the restoration of the monarchy under the Tarquins. In 1789, at the beginning of the French Revolution, Jacques-Louis David controversially exhibited his painting The Lictors Bring to Brutus the Bodies of His Sons (see image 10).