This is a highly unusual little item from the Georgian period, circa 1820. Most probably Swiss/ Austrian in origin although William Tell mania did spread throughout France and North America!! This charming bas relief plaque comes housed within its original stained circular wood frame with its gorgeous patina. This item also comes complete with its delicious 19th century wavy glass with THE most fantastic bubble to its centre (almost miniature bullion) and it also comes complete with original silk hanger, backing paper and 19th century inscription “The Death of Gessler By The Arrow of William Tell 1307”. We have placed two tiny nails in the side to secure and taped around the reverse edges to prevent movement in transit.

The exceptionally detailed 2.5” scene depicts the moment when William Tell appeared from behind a tree just outside the village of Kussnacht to assassinate with his crossbow, his arch enemy Albrecht Gessler (aka Hermann), the bailiff of this province of Uri, Switzerland. This moment in Swiss history is often classed as their moment of Liberty when William Tell delivered the region from the tyranny of Gessler. William Tell was an exceedingly strong man, an expert mountain climber and an expert shot and loving father to his son Walter. Gessler had taken control of this area of Switzerland and placed his hat on a tall pole within a village, stating that the locals should bow to this pole when they passed it. When visiting this village Tell took exception to this belittling and subservient request and decided to ignore it. Gessler immediately had him arrested and thought up a cruel punishment. He placed Tell’s young son at the base of a tree with an apple placed on top of his head, if Tell could slit the apple with his crossbow he could win his freedom, if not he would be executed. Now, obviously Tell being the expert marksman was able to split the apple but Gessler was curious as to why Tell had two arrows in preparation. Tell replied that if by mistake he had not hit the apple but had killed his own son, the second arrow would have been used to kill Gessler. Gessler was furious at this defiance and had Tell bound ready to travel across Lake Lucerne by ship and brought to the dungeons of Gessler’s Castle. However, that night there was a tremendous storm, the guards aboard ship untied Tell’s ropes so that he could use his superior strength to help them row/steer their ship. Tell however had different plans and leapt overboard, swimming to safety. He then travelled swiftly across country back to Kussnacht to lie in wait for Gessler in the woods....this is where our story began. This tale has so many echoes throughout the last centuries whether it is in the here and now, the French revolution or the American War of Independence, the people rejecting tyranny and embracing freedom.

Size: Outer frame measures just less than 3 5/8” by 0.5”. The inner composition relief visibly measures 2 5/8” diameter.

Please closely study this plaque as you will be astounded at the level of three dimensional details in such a minute scale. The material used is a type of dry sand colored clay with some some very minor disintegration/ flaking at 6 o clock. This would have been impressed from a mould, possibly a medallion struck in honor?? One can clearly see the raised, original maker’s initials of HB almost as if it was carved into the stone with exquisite foliage surrounding it. This is a FINE Georgian period piece and not a later Victorian, less accomplished example.

Condition: Minor, stable age cracking to bottom section of scene. we would not advise hanging this plaque from its original silk tab, the tab is ancient and appears sturdy but we would hate for it to give way!!

FREE USA and EU air tracked postage.
Beidermeier, Folk Art
Eclectic, English Country, Historical
Germany • German
19th Century

Trinity Antiques

Antique Georgian Miniature Relief Plaque, The Death Of Gessler by William Tell Circa 1820


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    Unique, quality antiques direct from The Cotswolds, England for sustainable home interiors.
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