Bronze art medal titled 'Serpent' by Melbourne sculptor Michael Meszaros, 1987. This striking medal depicting a coiled snake with its mouth open was Meszaros' first work to manipulate the circle. Although the medal is roughly circular, the coils of the snake overflow the circle and give a sense of motion and imminent threat to the piece. Meszaros has experimented further with distorting or cutting away the circle, but has always kept the shape - or its echo - as a defining feature of his work.

Physical Description

A coiled snake with mouth open about to strike.

Obverse Description

A coiled snake about to strike. In centre, MICHAEL /MESZAROS / 1987 [incised family symbol - abstracted unicorn bull looking backwards over its shoulder].

Reverse Description

Plain with mounting pins.


This is one of 44 art medals in the Museum's collection by Michael Meszaros, dated from 1960 through to 1987, which chart the evolution of a new phase of the medal tradition in Australia. While Australian medals have previously largely been commissioned works associated with official commemorations or major awards, these are personal artworks. In addition to their aesthetic value, they document nearly two decades of Australian life from a personal and popular point of view, drawing on cultural trends, sporting and leisure, and emerging issues such as environmentalism. This is a modern development in Australia, but it harks back to the European tradition, developed in the Renaissance, of medals as artistic works.

For over half a century, sculptors Andor (1900-1973) and Michael (1945- ) Meszaros have created medals that reflect the high points of life in Australia. From major awards and portraits of eminent Australians to artwork celebrating popular culture and the natural world, these objects illuminate our culture and history. Grounded in a centuries-old European art tradition, the medals create connections across disciplines and link such diverse subjects as scientific advances, religious themes, sport, the performing arts and motherhood. Through their public and private commissions and their personal artworks, the Meszaros sculptors have defined the modern Australian medal.

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