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Home > Auctions > 30th November 2021 > Scandinavian Viking Gilt Borre Style Trefoil Brooch with Animal Masks

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LOT 0381

GBP (£) 20,000 - 30,000
EUR (€) 23,520 - 35,280
USD ($) 26,640 - 39,960

Sold for (Inc. bp): £35,560

Scandinavian Viking Gilt Borre Style Trefoil Brooch with Animal Masks

9th century AD

A superb gilt-bronze trefoil brooch with alternating hatched and plain segments to the rim, dense inner pattern of chip-carved Borre Style scrolls and whorls with hatched blocks at the nodes; central triskele with knotwork detail, each arm terminating in a facing mask with pellet eyes and banded headdress; reverse with catch on one arm and pin absent, pin-lugs on another and loop on the third for attachment of a swag of beads, chatelaine, knife or other item. 77 grams, 89mm (3 1/2"). Extremely fine condition. An extremely rare world-class object.

From an important Dutch collection; acquired in the early 1990s from Geert Nyboer, Bedum, Netherlands, who acquired the brooch in Northern Holland in the 1970s; this lot has been checked against the Interpol Database of stolen works of art and is accompanied by AIAD certificate number no.10941-181636.

Polder Vondsten, Een Cultuur-historisch magazine, April 2009, p.64-65; accompanied by copies of the relevant Polder Vondsten, Een Cultuur-historisch magazine magazine article pages.

Cf. Beck, H. et al., Fibel und Fibeltracht, Berlin, 2000, p.194-5, for discussion of the type; Ewing, T., Viking Clothing, Stroud, 2007 plate 38; Wilson, D.M. and Klindt-Jensen, O. Viking Art, London, 1968, pl.XXXII; Smith, R.A. British Museum Guide to Anglo-Saxon Antiquities, reprinted Ipswich, 1993, p.160.

This is an extremely rare example of a trefoil brooch with high-relief modelling to the surface detail. The Borre Style decoration was executed with precision in wax and the brooch itself cast by a master craftsman by the cire perdue process, then gilded to capture the glittering effect of the fine surface detailing; a true masterpiece.

The trefoil type is based on a three-armed strap distributor for a sword-belt used by the Carolingian Franks, copied and re-modelled to Scandinavian taste and finally re-purposed as a female dress-ornament or brooch. A similar example from Tranby, Denmark, is held by the British Museum under acquisition number 1873,1211.1. The Tranby brooch is however less well-defined in its modelling and appears 'flatter' than the present example.