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1849 American Art-Union Medal, John Trumbull, Julian PE-35.

1849 American Art-Union Medal, John Trumbull, Julian PE-35.


64mm. Bronze. The American Art-Union (1839-1852) was a social organization with the goal of advancing the careers of American artists and fostering an appreciation of their art among the citizenry. As part of that effort, it commissioned Charles Cushing Wright, a preeminent American medallist of the 19th century, to produce a series of medals starting in 1847 and ending in 1849. Each medal commemorated a prominent American artist: Washington Allston in 1847, Gilbert Stuart in 1848, and John Trumbull in 1849.

The obverse of this medal was designed by Robert Ball Hughes based on his 1834 bust of his friend, John Trumbull. The reverse features the seal of the American Art-Union, with a female figure, possibly Columbia, holding a shield and standing on a pedestal preparing to crown a painter with a sculpture waiting his turn. A total of 250 bronze medals were struck at the Philadelphia Mint in 1849, following by another 250 pieces in 1850. These were awarded as part of the AAU’s end-of-year lottery.

The surfaces are a glossy chocolate-brown and virtually free of abrasions. The devices, boldly rendered in ultra high relief, lack any sign of wear. The only flaw is a small rim bruise at 2:30 on the reverse. Exceptionally preserved and far finer than most other examples seen.

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