Historical and Commemorative Medals
Collection of Benjamin Weiss
 

BELGIAN MEDALLISTS

Geefs, Alexandre Georges: Geefs (1829-1866) was a medallist and pupil of Braemt, the mint engraver at Brussels. He made a number of medals for international congresses, exhibitions and shows.

Geerts, Edouard Louis: Geerts (1846-1889) was born in Brussels. He was a pupil of the sculptor van der Stappen and is known for engraving about 50 fine medals.

Hart, Laurent Joseph: Hart was born in Antwerp, Belgium in 1810 and died in Brussels in 1860. He was a pupil of Braemt, Veyrat and Jouvenel. Before the revolution of 1830, he served as coin engraver to the Mints of Brussels and Utrecht. His medals, which are numerous, are often of particularly high relief and are generally of above average merit. (Forrer, Vol II, p. 433)

Jehotte, Constant: Jehotte was born in Liege, Belgium in 1809 and died in 1883. He learned medal engraving from his father Leonard Jehotte.

Michaut, Auguste Francois: Michaut (1786-1879) was a French sculptor, medallist and engraver of coins. He was a pupil of Moitte, Lemot and Galle. As a coin-engraver he made dies of Louis XVIII and Charles I, which are his best productions. Michaut also worked for William I of Holland, who appointed him as Medallist to the Court. He is better remembered as a coin engraver than as a medallist.

Wiener, Jacques (Jacob): The Wieners were a Jewish-Flemish family of extraordinary artists and die engravers.  Jacob Wiener (1815-1899), who generally signed his medals as J. Wiener (occasionally as Jacob), but known more commonly as Jacques, was the eldest of three brothers [the others were Léopold (1823-1891) and Charles (1832-1888)], all of whom excelled in the art of medal engraving.  Their parents, Marcus Wiener and Hanna Baruch, lived in Venlo, the Netherlands.  

Jacques was born in Hoerstgen, Germany, studied in Paris and then settled in Brussels.  In 1845 he decided to engrave medals representing the exterior and interior of monuments with a degree of precision of details that had not yet been attempted. The first in the series was a group of ten medals, 50 mm in diameter, depicting famous Belgian churches. All but one of these medals were done in collaboration with his brother Léopold.

Jacques Wiener then undertook what was to be a series of 50 medals, each 59 mm in diameter, entitled "Medals of the Most Remarkable Edifices of Europe", to represent the principal monuments of Europe. Of these, the majority were cathedrals, churches and mosques. One was a synagogue. (Two other medals, each 40 mm in diameter also depicted synagogues). He was unable to complete the whole task as only 41 medals were issued, some of which were done in conjunction with his brother Charles. He also engraved dies for a large number of other monuments, including prisons, town halls, the stock exchange etc. In addition to buildings, he engraved dies for individuals commemorating important events in their lives. His work was not only prodigious but was also the best rendition of perspective of the interior of buildings I have seen. This intricate and minute work, however, was to take it toll, for by 1872 Wiener had almost completely lost his eyesight, and after 1874 he produced no more medals.

His collective works have been catalogued by Emiel van Hoydonck who lists, mostly with photographs, 233 medals and 62 jetons by Jacques Wiener.  His medals were also extensively catalogued by Klaus Reinecke.  The vast majority of his medals were struck in bronze, with a relatively few in silver.

Information on some famous descendants from the Wiener family was kindly provided by Gerald Stern, who himself is a descendant of the Wieners.  They are:

One grandson of Jacques Wiener, Franz Wiener, who changed his name to Francis de Croisset (1877 – 1937),  a playwright and opera librettist who married the daughter of the Marquis de Sade;

Franz Wiener’s grandson (Jacques’ 3 x great grandson), Count Philippe de Montbello (born in 1936), was the longest serving director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and longest serving director of any major art museum in the world. He is also descended from a French aristocratic family as his grandmother, Marie-Thérèse Bischoffsheim was the daughter of the Marquis de Sade and Countess de Chevigné;
   
Another grandson of Jacques Wiener was Lionel Edouard Wiener (1879 – 1940) who wrote under the pseudonym  Lionel Renieu.  He was a writer, musician and historian (especially of railways);
 
A grandson of Jacques’ brother Alexander, was Dame Albertine Louise Winner (1907 – 1988, her father changed the family name to Winner). She was a senior government health official in the UK and was honoured by the Queen;

The grandson of Jacques’ sister Rosetta Wiener, Ernest Simson married Elisabeth Fischer (1900 – 1999). She was a child prodigy concert pianist playing throughout Europe from 11 years of age. She studied at the Stern Conservatory in Berlin
. She in turn was a second cousin of the legendary musician, Kurt Weill (1900 – 1950). (Kurt Weill married Lotte Lenya, a performer in her own right, who sang many of Weill's compositions, including Mack the Knife.)

Wiener, Léopold: Léopold Wiener (1823-1891) was a Belgian sculptor and medallist. He was born in Venlo, the Netherlands, studied initially in his brother Jacque Wiener's studio, then at the Academy. In Paris he became a pupil of the famous sculptor David d'Angers and of J. J. Barre, Chief engraver of French coins. At the death of Braemt, in 1864 Léopold Wiener was appointed to fill the post of First Engraver to the Belgian Mint.
 

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