Unknown Medallion. Please help.

Jun 2018
3
Portugal
Hello forum.
My dad offered me this medallion but I can't recognize who the man in it is. Could you please help me find out who he is? I would be eternally grateful.
 

Asherman

Forum Staff
May 2013
3,405
Albuquerque, NM
Looks a lot like Auguste Rodin during his later years, maybe not. Perhaps best known for "The Thinker", Rodin was THE French sculptor in the last half of the 19th century. Most of his famous pieces are life-to-monumental in sized, and cast ... usually in bronze. I doubt that if this is Rodin, that it would have been a self-portrait. Are there any other marks on the medallion?

This is an ancient form of portraiture going back to when kings stamped their portraits into metal and used them for buying peanut butter. I have a pocket full of copper portraits of Father Abraham. This item wasn't stamped, but modeled (prob. clay) molded from bronze.
 

Todd Feinman

Ad Honorem
Oct 2013
6,499
Planet Nine, Oregon
Looks a lot like Auguste Rodin during his later years, maybe not. Perhaps best known for "The Thinker", Rodin was THE French sculptor in the last half of the 19th century. Most of his famous pieces are life-to-monumental in sized, and cast ... usually in bronze. I doubt that if this is Rodin, that it would have been a self-portrait. Are there any other marks on the medallion?

This is an ancient form of portraiture going back to when kings stamped their portraits into metal and used them for buying peanut butter. I have a pocket full of copper portraits of Father Abraham. This item wasn't stamped, but modeled (prob. clay) molded from bronze.
Really does look like the old Rodin!
 

Asherman

Forum Staff
May 2013
3,405
Albuquerque, NM
I think so, but it could also be a generic old guy with a beard, or some other 19th century notable. The French were the leaders in this format of sculpture during the 19th century when medallion making was at a peak, and Rodin was the pre-immanent French sculptor of the time. That seems to add up to making Rodin a good possibility.

The centennial of Rodin's death was in 2017, and this item might have been struck for that occasion, though we would expect some additional identifying marks.
 
Jun 2018
3
Portugal
I think so, but it could also be a generic old guy with a beard, or some other 19th century notable. The French were the leaders in this format of sculpture during the 19th century when medallion making was at a peak, and Rodin was the pre-immanent French sculptor of the time. That seems to add up to making Rodin a good possibility.

The centennial of Rodin's death was in 2017, and this item might have been struck for that occasion, though we would expect some additional identifying marks.
I'll take new photographs from front and back so you can see with detail.
 

Asherman

Forum Staff
May 2013
3,405
Albuquerque, NM
With no more to go on than a single image, it will be difficult to determine exactly what you have. I believe this is meant to be Auguste Rodin, but that is based on the resemblance to a famous Artist known for bronze castings. If it is Rodin, he died in 1917, but in 2017 art lovers around the world celebrated his death, and lots o'stuff was produced for that market. OP, can you find out where, when and what your Dad paid for this item? If your Dad obtained the item before 2017, that would eliminate the 2017 Commemoration as a source for the medallion. I note there are no visible piercings, so the item wasn't probably designed to be worn as a decoration/metal. Modern art castings almost always have a maker's mark, with no markings there is a suggestion that it is older (1870's-1918) most likely.

BTW, see the 20 Euro coin that features Rodin ... issued, I think in 2017. A brief search didn't turn up any other examples recent of Rodin medallions, nor any similar to the piece we are researching. How sure are we that this is "bronze" rather than some other less expensive cast?
 

Todd Feinman

Ad Honorem
Oct 2013
6,499
Planet Nine, Oregon
As Asherman suggested, it looks like it might not be bronze; perhaps it's brass. Strange there are no markings on it. Perhaps it was a commissioned portrait medallion and was inset into a plaque of some sort or some other material that had markings or inscriptions. It could also be work of an art student, but the lack of markings is perplexing.