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The Triumph of Plenty

German; Belgian

Artwork Details

The Triumph of Plenty
circa 1600
German; Belgian
2 ½ in x 4 ¾ in x 3/16 in (6.35 cm x 12.07 cm x 0.48 cm);2 ½ in x 4 ¾ in x 3/16 in (6.35 cm x 12.07 cm x 0.48 cm)
Museum Purchase


March 28, 2009
Plaquettes are a class of small-scale relief sculptures, most often cast in bronze, that were first produced in Italy in the 1440s. Unlike bronze medals, which also appeared during this period and usually featured portraits, plaquettes typically depicted stories from Classical mythology, ancient history, and Christianity. Although scholars disagree over the original function, plaquettes often embellished utensils, boxes, and other types of furniture.
This plaquette depicts six figures riding on an ox-drawn wagon in a triumphal procession. They bear fruit and flowers symbolizing natural abundance and plenty. Five other plaquettes of the same series portray other allegorical figures such as War, Justice, and Humility. In his Trionfi (Triumphs), the Italian poet Petrarch (1304–1347) first popularized the idea of representing allegorical figures in triumphal processions, and the subject enjoyed great vogue in prints and metalwork of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Subject Matter:

This bronze plaque depicts a cart with several nude allegorical figures symbolizing natural fertility and abundance accompanied by their attendants who stand beside them. The plaque formerly belonged to a series of six plaques, each representing a different allegorical triumph that together decorated a casket, lampstand, or some other article of furniture.

Physical Description:

This bronze plaque features a pair of oxen pulling a four-wheeled wagon with six passengers. The seated driver holds a rod in his right hand and a two-tined fork in his left. An older figure holding a flaming vessel stands behind him, followed by a seated figure wearing classical drapery and a laurel wreath. The next figure, seated in the middle of the cart, is an older female, nude to the waist, who holds a cornucopia full of fruit and raises her left hand to point skyward. Two smaller standing figures appear next, one holding a bowl of fruit. The final figure is a reclining female nude holding a flower in the crook of her right arm.

Usage Rights:

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