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The Pact of Malice

  • Object:

    Medal

  • Place of origin:

    Munich (made)

  • Date:

    1915 (dated)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Goetz, Karl Xaver (medallist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Bronze, cast

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Richard Falkiner

  • Museum number:

    A.2-1998

  • Gallery location:

    Sculpture, Room 111, The Gilbert Bayes Gallery, case DR14

  • Public access description

    The dramatic symbolism on this medal reflects the bitterness felt by Germany towards the secret Treaty of London signed in April 1915 between the Allies and Italy – the so-called ‘Pact of Malice’. France, Britain, Russia, Serbia and Japan are depicted as a many-headed hydra, while Italy is represented as a suckling boy.
    Goetz's (1875-1950) medals were primarily inspired by newspaper reports, and his response to this event is epitomised by two medals he made in 1915, the present medal and another one depicting the Emperor Franz Joseph. On the present medal an image of God the Father and the words of the great German poet Heinrich von Kleist (1777-1811) add and apocalyptic dimension to the event.

  • Physical description

    Obv: A winged lion body with six hydra-like heads representing the allies: the large and the small lion heads stand for England and Belgium respectively, the cockerel stands for France, the bear for Russia, the snake for Serbia, and the dragon for Japan. The small suckling boy wearing a Bersaglieri hat symboloses Italy. Legend: BVND DER TVECKE (Pact of Malice)/ MCMXV.

    Rev: Bust of God the Father holding a sickle in His reight hand, and resting His left hand on the orb, is surrounded by clouds. At the bottom flames rise up. Legend: SCLAGT IHN TOT!/DAS WELTGERICHT/FRAGT EUCH NACH DEN GRVENDEN NICHT!/H. v.
    KLEIST (Smite him dead! The Day of Judgement will not ask your reasons/H[einrich] v[on] Kleist). Signed K/G on either side of the clouds.

  • Dimensions

    Diameter: 81 mm

  • Object history note

    Gift of Richard Falkiner.
    This medal was issued shortly after the Treaty of London between the Allies and Italy, the occasion of the latter declaring war on Austria on 24 May 1915.

  • Historical context note

    This medal was issued shortly after the Treaty of London between the Allies and Italy, the occasion of the latter declaring war on Austria on 14 May 1915. Goetz's medals were primarily inspired by newspaper reports, and his response to this event is epitomesed by two medals he made in 1915, the present medal and one depicting the Emperor Franz Joseph. On our medal the inclusion of the image of God the Father and the words of the great German poet Heinrich von Kleist (1777-1811) add an apocalyptic dimension to the event.

  • Descriptive line

    Medal, bronzeThe Pact of Malice, by Karl Goetz, Germany (Munich), dated 1915

  • Collection code

    Sculpture Collection