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Past Exhibition

Medals of the French Revolution

War and revolution have always proved rich inspiration for the production of medals. The Scher Collection includes a large number of medals of people and events from the period of the French Revolution, from the accession of Louis XVI through the reign of Napoleon I. Medals produced in lead and tin alloys for popular consumption memorialized events such as the siege and storming of the Bastille in 1789 (no. 107) and the meeting of the Estates General at Versailles (no. 106). Two medals shown here present events in the life of Marie-Antoinette — one happy, her marriage to Louis XVI (no. 70; reverse depicting marriage); the other tragic, showing her being taken to the guillotine (no. 71). The moment of Louis XVI’s beheading is depicted on a Dutch propaganda medal meant to elicit horror and pity (no. 93). In the tradition of depictions of earlier rulers, medalists captured every achievement of Napoleon I, beginning with his victories as shown in the highly idealized scene of the crossing of the St. Bernard Pass (no. 108) and including the astonishing personification of Mont Blanc and its mining school established by Napoleon in 1802 (no. 109).

  • Silver portrait medal of Marie Antoinette wearing a curled wig, with a lovelock over her right shoulder, in a low-cut dress trimmed with ermine

    Anton Franz Widemann (1724–1792) and Peter Kaiserswerth (act. 1765–93)
    Marie Antoinette (1755–1793), dated 1770
    Silver, struck
    Diam.: 1 3/4 in. (4.38 cm)
    Scher Collection

    Cat. 70

  • Bronze medal of a woman in profile to the left

    Conrad Heinrich Küchler (act. 1763–1821)
    Marie-Antoinette (1755–1793), dated 1793
    Copper, struck
    Diam.: 1 7/8 in. (4.8 cm)
    The Frick Collection; Gift of Stephen K. and Janie Woo Scher, 2016

    Cat. 71

  • Silver medal inscribed DER DOOD VON LUDWIG XVI KONIG VON FRANKREICH [The death of Louis XVI, King of France]

    Unknown artist
    Beheading of Louis XVI, King of France (1754–1793; r. 1774–92), dated 1793
    Lead-tin alloy, cast
    Diam.: 1 3/4 in. (4.49 cm)
    The Frick Collection; Gift of Stephen K. and Janie Woo Scher, 2016

    Cat. 93

  • Unknown artist
    Meeting of the Estates General, dated 1789
    Lead-tin alloy, cast
    Diam.: 3 1/16 in. (7.72 cm)
    Scher Collection; Promised gift to The Frick Collection

    Cat. 106

  • Lead medal depicting a crowd of armed citizens and members of the National Guard, surrounded by canons and barrels of ammunition, firing at the Bastille, from whose ramparts armed figures return fire

    Bertrand Andrieu (1761–1822)
    Siege of the Bastille, dated 1789
    Lead-tin alloy, cast
    Diam.: 3 1/8 in. (8 cm)
    Scher Collection; Promised gift to The Frick Collection

    Cat. 107

  • Lead medal depicting Napoleon on horseback, wearing military uniform and a commander’s cape, riding through a rocky outcrop, his right hand raised and brandishing bolts of lightning

    Bertrand Andrieu (1761–1822)
    Napoleon Bonaparte (1769–1821; First Consul 1799–1804; Emperor of France 1804–14/15), dated 1800
    Lead alloy, cast
    Diam.: 2 11/16 in. (6.83 cm)
    Scher Collection

    Cat. 108

  • Silver medal of a man in profile to the right with short hair and a laureate

    Bertrand Andrieu (1761–1822) and Nicolas Guy Antoine Brenet (1773–1846)
    Napoleon Bonaparte (1769–1821; First Consul 1799–1804; Emperor of France 1804–14/15), 1805
    Silver, struck
    Diam.: 1 9/16 in. (4 cm)
    Scher Collection

    Cat. 109