Last update:  July 5, 2013

African Parks II art medal, 2011 by Loes Schellekens
75 x 85 mm, bronze

About Dutch art medals
The Dutch sculptors/designers on this website show you that medals can be beautiful works of art. They choose to make medals because they personally enjoy the technique. Some Dutch medallists have had the good fortune to have been introduced to the art of medal making during their student years. This has laid the basis for the excellent reputation of Dutch medal art today. During the past few decades Dutch medallists have also become active in the sphere of ‘design’ objects, moving away from traditional materials and from the round medal shape with its two flat or flattened sides. They now freely use any material that can provide the desired effect. Dutch medallic art has thus acquired a new dimension, athough the objects do not very well correspond with the regular art medals.

Rotary Club art medal, 2005 by Pier van Leest, 55 x 55 mm bronze

Why are art medals made?
Primitively, medals consisted simply of two reliefs back to back, like coins. During the Italian Renaissance a fashion arose for (portrait) cast medals, which had nothing to do with currency. They were made to honour the person portrayed as well as for artistic enjoyment. A famous portrait medallist of that time was Pisanello (ca. 1395-1455).
Most ‘art medals’ are cast or struck in bronze. Bronze medals acquire colour naturally (but slowly) or by being treated with chemicals. This colouring is called the ‘patina’.

New medal: Nursery Crime, 2012, co-production of Christien and Lucie Nijland, 82 mm, terranova

This art medal symbolises numerous cases of sexual child abuse by one nurseryman who worked in several infant day-care centres in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The 3 crosses (of band-aids) symbolize the coat of arms of the City of Amsterdam.

The making of medallic art
Medal making is a complex form of art requiring qualities of expression, composition, and styling, including lettering. Medals can be very playful and unique. Some can be recognized immediately as the work of a particular artist. Where the work as a whole bears the unmistakable mark of its maker you do not need to look for a special signature.

Commissioning an art medal
If you intend to commission a medal that you want to be a ‘work of art’, you first have to find a qualified medallist — who usually will have been trained as a sculptor. It is preferable to choose from a number of such artists. The artist will offer you an indication of his or her kind of work and of the cost involved, propose a time schedule to make sure the medal is ready at the required date, and submit a sketch for your consent before realization. Our advice is, if possible, to order the medal a full twelve months before the event for which it is intended. Medal making takes time and an understanding of the process can prevent disappointment.

Making a choice
As in all other forms of art, you have to choose between different styles and tastes. Medal artists each have their own technique of working and their personal style. In order to achieve the desired result, make sure to choose the one who corresponds best with your own views. This website can help you by providing a selection of professional medallists capable of realizing your wishes in an artistically sound manner.

Dutch Building Syndicate, 1962 by Bram Roth (1916-1995), 60 mm bronze. Images: Mevius Numisbooks, Vriezenveen, The Netherlands

Webmaster: Lucie Nijland © LN/BoZ
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Last update: July 5, 2013

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