Of medals and women
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the female figure became especially popular as a subject for engraving on medals.
The image of the woman can be found everywhere: deified, Cupid at her feet, almost masculine in her forms in the purest Art Deco style, widow, mother, tutelary figure, symbol of insurance companies, trains, and boats, even muse of credit institutes (in itself rather ironic considering that married women in France were not entitled to have their own bank accounts until 1965).
She commemorates baby contests (oh yes), but is also depicted as a poultry farmer or crop farmer, meek and diaphanous versus strong and independent, the holder of a school certificate, praising the spas at Evian, the Society of Sciences, or the Saint Gobain glass factory, saint, goddess, or mother...
Crowning the glorious victor of a shooting competition with one august hand and holding a hammer in the other, she personifies the long-forgotten Association of Steam Apparatus Owners of the North of France (you simply can’t make this up!).
Glorified, beatified, half-naked, or modestly dressed, head bowed or forehead to the skies, diligent worker or elegant idler, muse, Marianne, allegory of freedom, maternity...or electricity all at once.
Commemorating war as well as peace: anything can happen, everything has happened.
And here is the collectible medal that has become a witness to the representation of women throughout history, sometimes lying, sometimes crude, but always and undoubtedly stylized.