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School of Art, Art Style

School of Art, Art Style.  Two or more artists whose style is so similar that their work is well known collectively or as a group, than perhaps individually. The name of the school is often that of the founder, the leader, or the city in which the artists practiced. There is not necessarily a "school" involved, yet some of the practitioners may have studied together or some may have legitimately been the student of another. Schools of art do not usually last for more than a generation or two, but their influence may indeed be widespread. The common denominator, of course, among the members whose work is attributed to a school, is their style. Often the style is the result of a technique of modeling or production which is intentionally passed along – or copied – among the members.

The designation for a school of art is usually applied by an author or art historian after considerable study of the collective work (very seldom by contemporary writers). Such classification is similar to historians who like to group related events or people together and give them a name for prosperity.

Early Italian medals were studied, for example, by George Frances Hill who coined the name of a dozen schools of the period; his Corpus includes medallic works up to 1530. Later work by Alfred Armand continued the names of some of Hill's designated schools of art as: Mantuan, Neapolitan, Venetian, Bolognese, Milanese, Roman, Florentine, Paduan and Emilian.

German schools of medallic art favored cast medals in the 16th century. In the 18th through 20th centuries they strongly favored the hand-engraved die, even when the 19th century French school of David d'Angers, Henri Chapu, Jules-Clement Chaplain, Alexandre Charpenter amd Oscar Roty displayed their success with the sculptured oversize model which was reduced to the intended size die required by die-engraving pantograph.  British schools of medallic art existed, as well as those of the low countries.

In America there were eight periods of art styles during the 350 years coins and medals have been made here.

Colonial Hand Engraving in Provisional Style, 1652-1792.

Hand Engraving at the Mint in Federal Style, 1792-1920.

Private Individual Engraving in Simplistic Style, 1792-1865.

Engraving and Diesinking in Philadelphia Style, 1865-1880s.

Sculptural Art of beauty in Beaux Arts Style, 1880s-1930.

Modelled Sculptural Patterns in Traditional Style, 1930-Date

Modern Art as Medallic Objects in Free Style,1965-Date.

Computer Engraved Coins and Medals in Unified Style, 21st century.

there was a beaux arts school of medallic sculptors existed near the turn of the 20th century. With Augustus St-Gaudens as the forerunner, it included such artists as John Flanagan, Victor Brenner, Paul Manship, James Earle Fraser, Daniel Chester French, and others. The beaux arts medallic genre was characterized by an idealism and naturalism with a softer modeled design.

But a Philadelphia school of hand engravers preceded this. Composed of William W. Warner, Silas Quint, William H. Key, Peter L. Krider, August Frank (and others). Their medallic work all look similar, as if any one could have prepared the dies. Their worked is noted for a stark design with a ingle device, no subsidiary adornment, and minimal diesinking activity. It was as if the technology of medal making, including design, die engraving, striking and finishing was passed around among the members, all in Philadelphia. This is, in effect, a true characteristic of a school of art.

See style and technique.


A34 {1976} Vermeule.

excerpted with permission from

An Encyclopedia of Coin and Medal Technology

For Artists, Makers, Collectors and Curators


Roger W. Burdette, Editor

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