The plaquette depicts the allegory of the Triumph of Poverty, with three women — Poverty (Inopia), Humility (Umilitas), and Fear (Timor) — sitting on a wicker cart drawn by two lean asses and accompanied by three other women, one in chains (Servitas), another carrying a heavy burden (Patientia), and the third behind the cart (Fragilitas). It is from a series of thirteen trionfi of the vicissitudes of human affairs.(1) The composition, as with some of the others, is based on engravings by Cornelis Cort after Maarten van Heemskerck of 1564 (see fig. 154.1).(2) The relatively large number of plaquettes from the series extant in various collections suggests that they must have been quite popular. The Lehman plaquette and another version in The Metropolitan Museum of Art may be added to the eleven versions in public collections listed by Pechstein.(3) Scholars disagree regarding the origin of the plaquettes, with both Germany and the Low Countries offered as possibilities. Given the inclusion of five of the plaquettes from this series in a Netherlandish cabinet from the early seventeenth century (Museo Civico, Brescia) and four in a possibly Netherlandish silver frame (The Wallace Collection, London), as well as their derivation from Netherlandish prints, an origin from the Low Countries is favored here.(4) The piece is a fine old cast.
Catalogue entry from: Frits Scholten. The Robert Lehman Collection. European Sculpture and Metalwork, Vol. XII. Frits Scholten, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art in association with Princeton University Press, 2011, pp. 182-83.
1. Weber, Ingrid. Deutsche, niederländische und französische Renaissanceplaketten, 1500-1650: Modelle für Reliefs an Kult-, Prunk- und Gebrauchsgegenständen. 2 vols. Munich, 1975, no. 678.
2. Sellink, Manfred and Hiegen Leeflang. Cornelis Cort. Compiled by Manfred Sellink. Edited by Huigen Leeflang. 3 vols. New Hollstein Dutch and Flemish Etchings, Engravings and Woodcuts, 1450-1700. Rotterdam, 2000, vol. 2, no. 152.
3. Metropolitan Museum, 25.142.32 (Pechstein, Klaus. Bronzen und Plaketten vom ausgehenden 15. Jahrhundert bis zur Mitte des 17. Jahrhunderts. Kataloge des Kunstgewerbemuseums Berlin 3. Berlin, 1968, no. 252).
4. See Weber 1975, vol. 1, p. 299, vol. 2, pl. 175.