Bronze art medal titled 'Contra!' by Melbourne sculptor Michael Meszaros, 1966. In this medal Meszaros is telling the story of two card players. The bottle of wine and the glasses suggest that the game has been going on for some time. The figure on the right is in a position of quiet concentration and his pile of coins shows that he has been winning. The figure on the left is down to his last coin and is about to wager it on the final draw of the card and call 'Contra!' (I challenge you!)

Physical Description

Overhead view of two players sitting at a round table, playing a card game.

Obverse Description

Overhead view of two players sitting at a round table, playing a card game. Around upper edge, CONTRA! Around lower left edge, Michael/[M]eszaros 1965 [incised family symbol - abstracted unicorn bull looking backwards over its shoulder]

Reverse Description



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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