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In pictures: medals of the Sun King

A medallic history of the reign of French king Louis XIV – known as the Sun King – is now on show at the British Museum in London

Published: July 21, 2015 at 10:57 am
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Nec Pluribus Impar, designed by Jean Warin, 1672
Louis XIV as the sun warming the earth. The inscription means ‘not unequal to many’, which was his motto


Hard Work, designed by Renaudot, 1661
Louis is represented as Apollo, driving the chariot of the sun which brings light to every part of the earth


Siamese Ambassadors, 1686
The ambassadors of King Phra Narai of Siam [Thailand] were received by Louis in the Galérie des Glaces at Versailles on 1 September, 1686. After the visit, one of the ambassadors said that after the three grandeurs of the world, he now knew a fourth - Versailles


Colossus of Rhodes, 1709
Louis is shown as the Colossus of Rhodes crumbling under its own weight. The medal celebrates the capture of Hainault from the French in 1709 and is representative of the widespread feeling that Louis’ pre-eminence was coming to an end


The Humiliation of Louis XIV, 1689
An exploding bomb, decorated with the fleurs de lys and inscription IMP GALLIC, which is symbolic of France blowing itself up

Images © The Trustees of the British Museum

Triumph and Disaster: Medals of the Sun King is on show at the British Museum, London, until 15 November 2015 and admission is free. For more information, visit the museum's website


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