JEWISH-AMERICAN HALL OF FAME • JEWISH MUSEUM IN CYBERSPACE
ANTI-SEMITIC BIGOTRY AS CHRONICLED BY HISTORICAL MEDALS


 

BIOGRAPHY OF MEDALLISTS

Wiener, Jacques (Jacob): The Wieners were a Jewish Flemish family of extraordinary artists and die engravers. Jacob Wiener (1815-1899), who often signed his medals as Jacques Wiener, was the eldest of three brothers [the others were Leopold (1823-1891) and Charles (1832-1888)], all of whom excelled in the art of medal engraving. Jacques was born of Hungarian parents, studied in Paris and then settled in Brussels. In 1845 he decided to engrave medals representing the exterior and interior of monuments with a degree of precision of details that had not yet been attempted. The first in the series was a group of ten medals, 50 mm in diameter, depicting famous Belgian churches. All but one of these medals were done in collaboration with his brother Leopold. Jacques Wiener then undertook what was to be a series of 50 medals, each 59 mm in diameter, entitled “Medals of the most remarkable Edifices of Europe,” to represent the principal monuments of Europe. Of these the majority were cathedrals, churches and mosques. Three depicted synagogues. He was unable to complete the whole task as only 41 medals were issued, some of which were done in conjunction with his brother Charles. He also engraved dies for a large number of other monuments, including prisons, town halls, the stock exchange etc. In addition to buildings, he engraved dies for individuals commemorating important events in their lives. His work was not only prodigious but was also the best rendition of perspective of the interior of buildings I have seen. This intricate and minute work, however, was to take it toll, for by 1872 Wiener had almost completely lost his eyesight, and after 1874 he produced no more medals. His collective works have been catalogued by Emiel van Hoydonck who lists, mostly with photographs, 233 medals and 62 jetons by Jacques Wiener. The vast majority of his medals were struck in bronze, with a relatively few in silver.

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