100638 | BELGIUM & THE NETHERLANDS. "La Santé" bronze Plaque.
100638 | BELGIUM & THE NETHERLANDS. Bronze Plaque. Issued 1913. The Belgo-Dutch Society of the Friends of Medallic Art: La Santé–Asklepios & Hygieia, issue 36 (70x64mm, 141.96 g, 12h). By J. Lecroart.
Nude female (Hygieia?) standing slightly right, with back facing, with cornuacopiae over ears and fruits in hair, and holding serpent-entwined plate of fruits; in background, short wall inscribed ΑΣΚΛΗΠΙΟΣ and upon which sits a nude child, leaning upon a bust of Asklepios / Facing bust of Hygieia as on obverse, inscribed ΥΓΙΕΙΑ and within scrolled panel adorned with serpents and fruits; in three lines below, SOCIETE DES AMIS / HOLLANDO–BELGE DE LA MEDAILLE / 1913. Edge: PAUL FISON.
Mint State. Yellow-bronze surfaces, a few scattered marks.
The Société hollando-belge des amis de la médaille d'art, similar to American series such as the Circle of Friends of the Medallion, the Society of Medalists, and even the still-active Brookgreen Gardens issues, was an annual series of medallic art, each featuring different designs and themes by some of the most acclaimed sculptors and engravers in Belgium and the Netherlands. The series produced numerous medals from 1901-1920, eventually becoming Les amis de la médaille d’art, active from 1920-1959.
This particular piece is on the topic of health, featuring Asklepios/Asclepius, the Greco-Roman god of medicine, and his daughter, Hygieia/Hygea, goddess of cleanliness and whence the English word hygiene derives. The serpent figures prominently in the depiction of both, as Asklepios is generally depicted with a serpent-entwined staff (still in use as a modern medical symbol), while Hygieia can usually be seen holding a serpent in her arms, feeding it from a dish.