French Bronze Art-Nouveau Photographic Medal

ArtistFrédéric Vernon



EphemeraAdvertising Matter


View Additional Information & Tags

Allegorical, Medals, Photography


Support Dimensions: presumed recto (left) and verso (right): diameter: 5.00 cm

This bronze Art-Nouveau medal designed by the important French sculptor and medal engraver Frédéric Vernon (Frédéric Charles Victor de Vernon: 1858-1912) (1.) has been tentatively dated 1897 based on his design of the standing model with tripod-mounted field camera. The woman photographer appeared on one side of a medal issued that year by the Photo-Club Roannais for their international exhibition of photographic art. (2.) Unlike that particular medal which on the opposite side featured a centered crest of arms and the engraving for the Photo-Club Roannais Exposition De 1897, this medal  features an alternate design of a bundled group of leaves. Additionally, the medal pays homage to French photographic pioneers Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre (1787-1851) and Nicéphore Niépce (1765-1833) with their last names engraved within individual banners located in foliage to the left of the woman model. The presumed backside shown at right in this composite photograph is believed to be where the name of the awarded recipient of the medal would have been engraved. It is intriguing to think Vernon may have created this medal in an alternate design in order to capitalize and commemorate future photographic exhibitions.


A variant of this medal appears as a plaque medallion in the collection of the Musée d’Orsay museum, Paris: inventory # 11-520201 | MEDOR1706 | height: 0088 m. x length: 0061 m. | Société amicale de photographie.


engraved at base of model’s left foot: F. Vernon

1. Three years before his death in 1909, Vernon was elected a member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts and became professor in the medalists’ atelier in the Ecole des Beaux-Arts at Paris.
2. This medal was awarded to the English photographer Paul Martin and is represented in the online collection of Lone Star Photographic Arts as a variant cast in silver: medal title: Photo-Club Roannais, Exposition De 1897 {2} Founded on January 24, 1895, the club’s Exposition Internationale D’Art Photographique was held from June 6-27, 1897.


Original copy for this entry posted to Facebook on September 2, 2012:

Photographic medals are not a focus of this website, but the mantra of collecting what I love induced me to make an exception while trolling the web several months ago. The prize was this stunning Art-Nouveau example featuring a classic photographic motif: a woman holding a lens cap while making an exposure using a large tripod-mounted field camera. What is more rare in my limited educational understanding of medals from this period is it would also be classified as a “blank” - a medal that has not been engraved to any recipient. It took me a bit to decipher its’ origins and I originally thought it might date to 1889, for the 50th anniversary of Louis Daguerre’s momentous discovery known as the Daguerreotype. That is because his last name along with that of Nicéphore Niépce appear on the front, but then I found the (presumed) correct date of 1897 showing the lady photographer design on a medal issued by the Photo-Club de Roannais, for their international exhibition of photographic art.

French Bronze Art-Nouveau Photographic Medal