Skip to main content

A Scene from Classical Mythology or History: M.44-1904

An image of Plaque

Terms of use

These images are provided for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons License (BY-NC-ND). To license a high resolution version, please contact our image library who will discuss fees, terms and waivers.

Download this image

Creative commons explained - what it means, how you can use our's and other people's content.

Alternative views

Object information

Current Location: In storage


A Scene from Classical Mythology or History


Maker: Limosin, Léonard (Probably)




Copper plaque with a white ground, painted in enamels with a horse, two men, an old woman, a boy, and a dog

Slightly convex D-shaped copper plaque, painted in blue, turquoise, green, yellow, pale mulberry, pale purple, brown, black, and white enamel on a white ground. Clear counter-enamel with dark brown spots and mottled brown areas. On the left a saddled white horse stands in profile to the right. A youth wearing a turquoise phrygian cap, a blue tunic, and yellow boots stands behind the horse, and has his right arm over the saddle. Two men stand by the horse’s head holding its bridle. One, perhaps Hercules? wears a brown lion’s mask, a brown tunic, and turquoise skirt . The other who has his back to the viewer, points with his right arm towards the right. He wears a turquoise helmet al antica with feather, a brown tunic with a triangular turquoise collar over a garment with blue, green and yellow sleeves, and blue and yellow tights. He has a sword, and three brown bags are suspended from beneath his tunic. An angry small boy wearing a yellow tunic runs from the right towards the horses, shaking his fist. An old woman wearing a blue dress and white cap stands behind him gesticulating. In front of her in the foreground, another man, perhaps a peasant, has his back to the viewer, and holds out both his arms out towards the left. He wears a yellow hat, a pink tunic, and ragged calf-length breeches, and has a knife in a brown sheath suspended from his waist. In the left foreground, a white dog runs towards the figures. The ground is painted with areas of pale purple and green, and there are two yellow plants in the foreground. Gold is used sparingly on the edge of the woman’s cap, for the pattern on the sheath of the knife of the man standing in front of her, on the helmet and its feather on the other man, and on the edges of the horse’s equipment. The plaque is mounted in a D-shaped wooden frame. covered in red velvet, with a gilt-metal inner edge on the front. The frame covers the edges of the plaque at the back.


History note: Hollingworth Magniac, Colworth, Bedfordshire; his son, Charles Magniac; sold Christie’s, 2,4-8 and 11-15 July 1892, Catalogue of the renowned collection of works of art chiefly formed by the late Hollingworth Magniac Esq. (known as the Colworth Collection, 3rd Day, 5 July, lot 247; sold for £31.10.0 to Frank McClean, MA, FRS (1837-1904), Tunbridge Wells.

Legal notes

Frank McClean Bequest

Place(s) associated

  • Limoges ⪼ Haute Vienne ⪼ France

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bequeathed (1904) by McClean, Frank


16th Century, third quarter#
Circa 1565 - 1573


This plaque was attributed to Leonard Limosin and dated about 1570 by J.C. Robinson in 1862, and in the Magniac sale catalogue of 1892, where the composition was described as ‘animated even dramatic, and the execution, though verging on coarseness is bold and spiritied; it is painted in colours on a white ground, peculiar to Leonard in his later time.’ Dalton, 1912, was more cautious, remarking that it ‘appears to be by someone influenced by his style’. However, Philippe Verdier when he visited the Fitzwilliam, supported the earlier attribution to Léonard Limousin. The subject has not been identified. The lack of stirrups on the horse and the Phrygian cap worn by the man standing behind the horse, suggest that it depicts a classical rather than a contemporary subject, perhaps the departure of Hector for the Trojan War. The thin application of translucent enamels over a white ground is a characteristic of some enamels by Limosin made in the 1560s and early 1570s The similarities between these enamels and the Fitzwilliam's plaque support its attribution to Léonard Limosin. Horses with similarly fierce eyes, and figures with elongated tapering legs appear in a plaque of 'Theseus and the Queen of the Amazons' dated 1563 in the Musée national de la Renaissance at Écouen. The dog, horse, and streaky colouring of the ground with small yellow plants are strongly reminiscent of those on an oval plaque in the Louvre representing Spring, on which a man and woman on horseback ride through a landscape accompanied by a white hound. This probably formed part of a set of Seasons, of which Winter also in the Louvre, is dated 1572. A large undated plaque in the Taft Museum, Cincinnati, titled 'The Children of Mars', depicts a contemporary scene of soldiers pillaging a village, and includes a horse with a saddle and stirrups being led away by a soldier and gesticulating figures reminiscent of those on the Fitzwilliam's plaque, particularly a man shown from the back with both arms raised to the right

School or Style


People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Decoration composed of enamels ( blue, turquoise, green, yellow, pale mulberry, pale purple, brown, black, and white)
Frame composed of velvet ( red) wood gilt-metal Height 32.3 cm Width 41.7 cm
Plaque Height 27.5 cm Width 37.5 cm

Materials used in production

slightly convex Copper

Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: circular paper label printed in black with ‘.MAGNIAC• COLLECTION’ between concentric circles, and inscribed ‘247’ in black ink in the middle.

  • Text: '.MAGNIAC• COLLECTION' printed in black, '247' hand-written in black ink
  • Location: On the reverse
  • Method of creation: Printed in black and hand-written in black ink
  • Type: Label

Inscription present: square paper label printed in black

  • Text: BEQUEATHED BY/FRANK McCLEAN/M.A. F.R.S.: F.R.A.S:/of Trinity College/November MDCCCCIV
  • Location: On back
  • Method of creation: Printed in black
  • Type: Label

References and bibliographic entries

Related exhibitions

Identification numbers

Accession number: M.44-1904
Primary reference Number: 156430
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Wednesday 28 February 2024 Last processed: Tuesday 5 March 2024

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

This record can be cited in the Harvard Bibliographic style using the text below:

The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "A Scene from Classical Mythology or History" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-07-16 11:42:52

Citation for Wikipedia

To cite this record on Wikipedia you can use this code snippet:

{{cite web|url= |title=A Scene from Classical Mythology or History |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-07-16 11:42:52|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

API call for this record

To call these data via our API (remember this needs to be authenticated) you can use this code snippet:

Bootstrap HTML code for reuse

To use this as a simple code embed, copy this string:

<div class="text-center">
    <figure class="figure">
        <img src=""
        alt="A Scene from Classical Mythology or History"
        class="img-fluid" />
        <figcaption class="figure-caption text-info">A Scene from Classical Mythology or History</figcaption>

Sign up for updates

Updates about future exhibitions and displays, family activities, virtual events & news. You'll be the first to know...