1705 (made)

Johann Georg Eben

Diameter: 21.8 cm across the back of the plaque, Weight: 208.7 g

3633-1855 MET

Circular silver plaque, embossed, chased and engraved.

This skillfully chased and embossed silver plaque commemorates four victories won by the Swedish general Count Adam Lewenhaupt over Russian troops in the early eighteenth century. The battles were fought between the kingdoms of Sweden and Russia for control of the Baltic states, and were part of a wider conflict often referred to as The Great Northern War. The plaque was made in 1705 at Riga (then under Swedish rule) by Johann George Eben, a German who became one of Riga's most important goldsmiths. The identity of the person who commissioned the plaque is unknown. The remains of four plugs on the back of the plaque suggests it was originally displayed in a frame.

This plaque commemorates a series of Swedish victories over Russian forces during the Great Northern War (1700-1721), a conflict centred upon the Baltic region that Russia ultimately won. The Swedish troops in all four of the battles depicted were led by Count Adam Ludwig Lewenhaupt (1659-1719), but he is not named or depicted on the plaque. Instead, the inscriptions record the location and dates of the victories; three of the battle scenes depicted on the shields are generic depictions of the Swedish cavalry charging Russian troops, the fourth shows Swedish soldiers firing cannon and grenades during the siege of Birsen. The design of the plaque, with shields framing military scenes on a background of banners, cannon, spears and other accoutrements of the battlefield, originates in Ancient Roman art. Around the back of the plaque are the remains of four plugs which presumably secured it to a frame for display. The person who commissioned the work is unknown, but may have been a member of Lewenhaupt's family. Johann Georg Eben, who made and probably designed the plaque, was born in Swabia (Germany) and specialised in the representation of historical scenes. He became one of the most important goldsmiths in Riga and also worked as an engraver. The fact Eben has signed his name rather than punched his maker's mark recalls the signatures added by sculptors to commemorative medals, and perhaps suggests his desire to draw attention to his skill as an artist. Among his few other surviving works are two large, golden, keys presented to the leader of the Russian troops upon the surrender of Riga to the Russians in July 1710. Later that year, Eben died of plague. The Museum acquired the plaque in 1855 for £30, from an unrecorded source.

Location: In Storage

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