A rare oval repousée brass platter-form plaque with an extraordinary sweeping relief illustration of a scene from the Book of Revelation. The richly detailed imagery — in the Renaissance taste — encompasses three main scenes from the apocalyptic text of the New Testament united into a vertical landscape. The plaque has Mannerist style arabesque border incorporating grotesque masks at the top and bottom. The reverse side has a sunburst flaring scalloped design. The biblical scenes on the front side presumably were adapted from old master sources. Their use on a decorative arts object is uncommon; the plaque might have been made for use in a church. A remnant post in the center of the back suggests that the plaque might have originally had a loop and thus was intended for hanging.
The Christian apostle John wrote the Book of Revelation toward the end of the 1st century as a vision of Christ's triumph over the oppression and corruption of the Roman emperors. As illustrated in this plaque, in the top right corner, the Four Horses of the Apocalypse and their riders, personified as female figures, make a triumphant entrance above a rainbow that crosses the sky. One rider holds an olive branch and another holds a flag. They are accompanied by putti who blow a trumpet, carry a torch and hold a broken chain. The middle portion appears to represent the battle between a band of angels, led by the angel Michael, and a group of demonic fallen angels accompanied by Satan, leader of the rebellion against God. At the bottom of the plaque, earthquakes predicted in Revelation break apart buildings on the right and swallow people into fissures in the earth on the left. A serpent hissing from the rocks in the lower left might be a representation of Satan as the dragon. Two distant figures — perhaps representing the righteous believers awaiting the return of Christ — stand undisturbed watching as the other writhing people disappear into the hellish ground.
Condition: Generally very good with the usual overall light wear, oxidation. Some light bending and crimping. Some detail of figures worn, probably from polishing over time. Brass nicely naturally patinated. Remnant of post in the center of the back, perhaps for a loop originally used to hang the plaque.
"New Testament of the Bible: Summary and Analysis, The Book of Revelations." Cliff Notes. 2014. http://www.cliffsnotes.com/literature/n/new-testament-of-the-bible/summary-and-analysis/the-book-of-revelation (7 July 2015).