Henri IV, Marie de Médicis and the Dauphin
Guillaume Dupré French
The composition represents a rethinking and clarification of a smaller medal that Dupré produced in 1603 to celebrate Henri IV's heir. The dauphin, the future Louis XIII, stands between his parents, who are garbed as Mars and Minerva. With one foot planted on the head of a dolphin, his usual attribute, the dauphin bears his father's helmet. Henri IV was already greatly taken with the earlier medal and issued letters patent authorizing Dupré to make as many examples in as many materials as he wished. Dupré obviously understood his rights to include the design's overhaul and enlargement. This uniface example of the enlarged 1605 reverse as well as a uniface specimen of the obverse were auctioned in 1988. The obverse went to the British Museum, which already had a reverse that Mark Jones notes was "from the same batch of casts" as the present one. The Metropolitan Museum's cast has lost most of its lacquer patination, but it easily dominates our holdings of works by Dupré, greatest of all French medalists.