The Gallery has received an extremely rare gold medal of King Charles I from Drs. Yvonne and A. Peter Weiss. In addition to being unique and of outstanding quality, the medal was the personal possession of the king. He gave it to his confessor, William Juxon, bishop of London and future archbishop of Canterbury, in the tense weeks before Charles’s execution in 1649. The medal has an unbroken provenance from today until 1639, when it was produced at the king’s behest by his official medalist, Nicolas Briot (c. 1579–1646).
Known as "Dominion of the Seas" or "Sovereign of the Seas," the medal may refer to Charles’s assertion of monarchical authority over the sea or his commissioning of a warship by that name. Five versions of the medal are known, all showing the king on the obverse and a ship on the reverse. These versions can be easily distinguished by their differences in size (ranging from 27 millimeters to 60 millimeters), material (lead, bronze, silver, and gold), inscription, and depiction of the king. Cast in a gold alloy, this acquisition is by far the largest, at 60 millimeters, and the most detailed. On the obverse, Charles is depicted in profile and dressed in armor with lion’s-head pauldrons, a soft collar, and the Lesser George (an insignia of the Order of the Garter) around his neck. The ship depicted on the reverse is thought by some scholars to represent the Sovereign of the Seas, which launched in 1637 and was the largest warship in the Royal Navy—emblematic of Charles’s effort to restore Britain’s maritime power.