Collection of Benjamin Weiss
COLUMBIAN EXPOSITION - OFFICIAL AWARD MEDAL
ST GAUDENS, Augustus / BARBER, Charles, USA, 1893,
Bronze, 76 mm
The World's Columbian Exposition, held in Chicago in
1893, was the last and the greatest of the nineteenth century's World's
Fairs. Nominally a celebration of Columbus' voyages 400 years prior, the
Exposition was in actuality a reflection and celebration of American
culture and society--for fun, edification, and profit--and a blueprint for
life in modern and postmodern America.
This medal, the obverse of which was designed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens and the reverse by Charles F. Barber, was made in 1892 by the Scovill Manufacturing Company of Waterbury, Connecticut. Scovill was an early industrial American innovator, adapting armory manufacturing processes to mass-produce a variety of consumer goods, including buttons and campaign medals.
Saint Gaudens' original design for the reverse was rejected by prudish Treasury Department officials because it displayed a nude male youth. The Mint then asked its own Charles Barber for a suitable replacement. On the obverse, the hooded figure with beard and hooked nose to the right side of Columbus is believed to be Augustus Saint Gaudens himself- - the only known self portrait. Saint-Gaudens is regarded as the greatest sculptor produced by America.
Johannes Hubertus L. de Haas (1832-1908), whose name is inscribed on the reverse of this medal, was a Dutch painter whose major works were of cows painted in their natural pastoral settings. In 1861 he received the gold medal at the Utrecht Exhibition, and in 1869 he won a gold medal at the International Art Exhibition in Munich. He also exhibited at The World's Columbian Exposition, held in Chicago in 1893, where he won the prize medal shown here.
LINK to Paintings by Haas (from artnet)
LINK to Columbian Exposition (from xroads.virginia.edu)
LINK to St Gaudens' rejected reverse of this medal
LINK to World's Columbian Exposition Tokens and Medals (from columbianexpo.com)