Medal design for “Securitas Imperii” or the Birth of the Duke of Berry (1754) by Edmé Bouchardon


Commemoration of the Duke of Berry, future Louis XVI.
Medal design for “Securitas Imperii” or the Birth of the Duke of Berry (1754) by Edmé Bouchardon.

Edmé Bouchardon

Chaumont-en-Bassigny 1698 – Paris 1762

Medal design for “Securitas Imperii” or the Birth of the Duke of Berry (1754)

Red chalk. Circular framing line, also with the red chalk.

The legend SECURITAS IMPERII and the exergue NAT. DUCIS. BITURIC. / MDCCLIV both inscribed in red chalk.

Inscribed with the pen and ink Le 17 avril 1752 remis am Roittier lepere le dessin at the top left of the original mount.

Diameter: 220 mm (8 11/16 in.)

Provenance – Austin Gunnison (1833 – 1915), Cincinnati, Ohio, private collection, California; Paris, Christie’s, 18 March 2004, n°106 (as attributed to)

Literature – Winslow Ames, “Bouchardon and Company”, in Master Drawings, 1975, vol. 13, n°4, p. 379 – 400, n°35.


The son of a sculptor, Edmé Bouchardon was trained in Paris at the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture, before travelling to Rome in 1723. A student in the French Academy in Rome for nine years, he was called back to Paris by King Louis XV. Throughout his career, Bouchardon was appreciated as a great sculptor, probably the greatest before Coustou, Houdon or Pigalle, and as a remarkable draughtsman, especially famous for his series Les Cris de Paris.


From 1737 to his death in 1762, Bouchardon occupied the prestigious function of official draughtsman of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, an institution founded under Louis XIV, with a twofold role: to advance and deepen historical knowledge and to support monarchist propaganda by providing ‘inscriptions’. This second role included conceiving medals of the King’s Metallic History and tokens for the royal administration. Between 1749 and 1750, following a series of conferences, Bouchardon was commissioned to design an important group of medals in order to renovate and complement the King’s History following the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, after which France’s position was in fact weakened because of the cession of the Austrian Netherlands[1]. This series of drawings, all executed in red chalk, commemorated French military conquests such as Furnes, Ypres, Menin, Tournai or Brussels.


Once the drawings were approved by the secretary of the Petite Académie, Claude Gros de Boze (1680-1753), they were mounted on blue paper to be shown for approval to the King by the State Secretary Jean Philipeaux, comte de Maurepas. Then, they were handed over to director of the Mint, Jules Robert de Cotte (1683 – 1767), who added a release at the top left of the blue mount with the name of the medal engraver and the date he was given the drawing. According to the inscription on our drawing, we know that it was delivered to the medal engraver Joseph Charles Roëttiers (1693-1779), called the Father, on the 17 April 1752 (see medal in the Louvre , inv. AOP 2084). A copy of our drawing, probably executed by the medal engraver, is in an album in the Musée de la Monnaie de Paris (Ms F° 127, n° 117)[2].


These drawings are all drawn in red chalk and their diameter is about 8 or 9 in., whereas their corresponding medals were engraved in a smaller format of 1 5/8 in. On each medal, the obverse features a portrait of Louis XV whereas the reverse is decorated with a three-elements composition: a corps de devise (the image), a Latin legend and an exergue (the subject of the commemoration, inscribed in the horizontal space under the image, with a date in Roman numerals). A group of eight drawings from this series is nowadays in the Metropolitan Museum of New York[3], amongst which Servado Foedere Sempers (inv. 1979.10.2).


Our medal design Securitas Imperii illustrates the birth of Louis Auguste, duke of Berry, on the 23 August 1754. Marie Josèphe de Saxe is represented holding the new dolphin[4], her son, in her arms, in front of a column on which was installed the crown of the future King Louis XVI.


[1] Edouard Kopp, “Bouchardon’s drawings for medals and jetons: making history at the Petite Académie (1737-1762)”, in Master Drawings, New York, 2009, p. 191-220, p. 199-201.

[2] Recueil de 124 desins (sic) du temps à la sanguine relatifs aux « Médailles sur les faits principaux du règne de Louis XV » Paris, Hôtel de la Monnaie (Ms. F° 127).  Cf. Fernand Mazerolle, Les dessins de médailles et de jetons attribués au sculpteur Edme Bouchardon,  Paris : E. Plon, Nourrit et Cie, 1898. 

[3] Jacob Bean et Lawrence Turcic, 15th – 18th Century French Drawings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1986, n° 18-25.

[4] Following the early death of his brother Xavier-Marie, duc d’Aquitaine, at the age of five months.


Condition report – Very good condition. Some yellow stains on the original blue mount which is pasted on the paper.  

Framing options

Pas de cadre, Cadre inversé (3,3 cm) teinté ébène, Cadre Louis XVI or (3cm)