Full Circle: The Medal in Art History. A Symposium in Honor of Stephen K. Scher



Friday, September 8, 2017

The Frick Collection, New York

Call for Papers

An invention of the Italian Renaissance inspired by ancient coins, medals were first created to commemorate individuals and significant events. Over time and as the art form flourished across Europe, they came to be made and to function in new ways, including to celebrate the éclat of the ruling class (and ascendance of the bourgeoisie), document achievements in the arts and sciences, and serve as a resource for the study of the distant past. The study of medals—too often overlooked in narratives of western art history—illuminates the aesthetic landscape of the five centuries in which they enjoyed wide popularity and provides vital insights into the social and political history of Europe. Medalists were celebrated members of the arts community, and medal making was not an isolated practice. Artists from Pisanello to Dürer to David d’Angers designed and/or produced medals alongside their paintings, prints, and sculptures. The medal has long been held to bridge these disciplines, and recent scholarship has begun to probe the rich intersections between medals and other arts.

On the occasion of the exhibition The Pursuit of Immortality: Masterpieces from the Scher Collection of Portrait Medals—which celebrates an initial gift to the Frick from the unparalleled collection of Stephen K. and Janie Woo Scher—and in honor of Stephen Scher’s contributions to the study of medals as a collector, curator, and scholar, The Frick Collection is organizing Full Circle: The Medal in Art History. This symposium builds upon the work of Scher and others who have sought to re-center the medal in art-historical discourse and to bring this important class of object to the attention of the broader scholarly community and the public.

We invite proposals for 20-minute papers focusing on any aspect of the production, collection, and interpretation of commemorative medals made from the fifteenth to the nineteenth century that situate them in relation to a broader artistic and cultural context. We strongly encourage submissions by emerging scholars to promote future research in this field.

Application Instructions

Please send an abstract (max. 250 words) and CV by Wednesday, March 1, 2017, to the conveners:

Aimee Ng, Associate Curator, The Frick Collection (ang@frick.org)

Robert Wellington, Lecturer, Centre for Art History and Art Theory, Australian National University (robert.wellington@anu.edu.au)

Melanie Vandenbrouck, Curator of Art, Royal Museums Greenwich (MVandenbrouck@rmg.co.uk)

Please include “The Medal in Art History: Proposal” in the subject line.