Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Gold Bracteate

1 7/8 x 1 3/4 x 3/16 in. (4.8 x 4.4 x 0.4 cm). .3oz (8g)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Gift of Dr. Mortimer D. Sackler, Theresa Sackler and Family, and John W. Byington Trust Gift, 2001
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 301
This thin gold pendant, known as a bracteate, displays a deft and spirited design defined by bold, sweeping lines. The central face exemplifies the exuberant, highly abstact style of early medieval Scandinavian artists. The border zone, formed by intricate and orderly rows of repeated punchwork, reveals the great technical competency of goldsmiths working in northern Europe during the fifth and sixth centuries.

The manufacture of bracteates probably originated with Roman and Byzantine portrait medallions, presented by the emperor as gifts to important figures. Here, however, the imperial image has been transformed into the depiction of a god, perhaps Odin, chief of Nordic pantheon; his oversize face is balanced atop a galloping horse with horns. With their fine workmanship and allusions to the Roman and Byzantine worlds, gold bracteates conveyed both the sophisticated taste and the high social status of their owners, who wore them as fine jewerly and hoarded them as treasure.
[ Ward & Company Works of Art, New York (sold 2001)]
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Recent Acquisitions: A Selection, 2001-2002." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 60, no. 2 (Fall 2002). pp. 12-13.

Hoops, Johannes, and H. Arbman. Reallexikon der germanischen Altertumskunde 36 (2009). no. IK 594, Illustrated in vol. 40, pp. 950-952, Tafel 48.

Related Objects

Round Box Brooch

Date: 1000–1100 Medium: Copper alloy, cast, selectively applied silver foil (OA XRD) ... Accession: 1982.323.2 On view in:Gallery 301

Animal-Head Brooch

Date: 1000–1100 Medium: Cast copper alloy, gilt Accession: 1982.323.3 On view in:Gallery 301

Brooch with Boar’s-Head

Date: late 8th century Medium: Copper alloy, gilt and cast; copper alloy pin secured in hinge with... Accession: 1992.59.3 On view in:Gallery 301

Oval Brooch

Date: 900–1000 Medium: Copper alloy, gilt Accession: 1982.323.1 On view in:Gallery 301

Neck Ring (Torque)

Date: 600 B.C. Medium: Copper alloy Accession: 1987.395 On view in:Gallery 301