FRANCE Execution of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, 1793 48mm Copper 44.66 grams Medal by Conrad Heinrich Küchler, (Pollard 1; Julius 251; BDM III, 239)
Obverse: Busts of Louis XVI and Marie Antionette LUD.XVI D:G, FR. ET NAV. REX. MAR. ANT. AUST. REG. / FATI INIQUI (translation: Of Unfair Fate)
Reverse: Louis saying farewell to his family. His children, Louis Charles, Duke of Normandy (afterward the Dauphin) and Marie Therese Charlotte, Duchess of Angouleme, kneel before him, pulling at his coat. His hat is thrown heedlessly to the floor. His wife, Marie Antoinette, rests her head on his breast. To the right, Madame Elizabeth sobs into her handkerchief. To the left, the guillotine awaits the morrow. On a scroll above, a quotation from the lamentations of Jeremiah (Ch. 1, v. 12) AN EST DOLOR PAR DOLORI NOSTRO (See If There Be Any Sorrow Like Unto My Sorrow).
Exergue: NATUS XXIII AUG. MDCCLIV. SUCC. X MAY MDCCLXXIV DECOLL. XXI JAN. MDCCXCIII.
Signed: C.H.K. / C.H. KUCHLER. FEC.
Louis XVI (1754-1793) King of France (1774-1792) was the son of Louis, dauphin of France, and grandson and successor of Louis XV. In 1770 he married Marie Antoinette, daughter of Emperor Francis I and Empress Maria Theresa. In 1789, during the French revolution, the royal family was moved from Versailles to the Tuileries Palace. Later they were captured and brought back to Paris and imprisoned. Louis was charged with treason and guillotined on January 21, 1793. Having lost his elder son in 1789, Louis left two children: Louis Charles (Louis XVII), and Marie Therese Charlotte, Duchess of Angouleme. The poignancy of the reverse of the king's medal shows Kuchler's artistry at its very best. The medal has been named "The King's farewell" and was intended to exploit the popular revulsion of feeling in England at the execution of the King and Queen of France.
The medal was struck in England by Matthew Boulton at the Soho Mint.
Conrad Heinrich Küchler was born in Flanders around 1740. He first came to England in March 1793, where he was employed as an engraver at the Soho Mint, owned by the notable manufacturer Matthew Boulton. He was Boulton's sole artist for designing and die-cutting, and produced the designs for various coins, medals and tokens, including the copper "cartwheel" pennies and twopences, and medals depicting the Battle of Trafalgar, Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. He designed at least three of the obverse portraits for the long reign of George III. He later left the Mint, but continued to be employed by Boulton's firm in London until his death. Küchler died in Handsworth in 1810, and was buried in the churchyard of St Mary's