AO History - Whitney Web site

Taken from: Letter of Jay M. Galst, M.D.

1933 AO Medallion by Jon Swanson - Images Courtesy of Jay Galst, M.D.

Text below taken from: Letter of Jay M. Galst, M.D.

This interpretation of vision was conceived and executed by Jonathan M. Swanson, a sculptor of New York City. He was born in Chicago and attended public grammar and High Schools there. He studied at the Chicago Art Institute and always expressed his gratitude for that privilege, especially the instruction received under John Vanderpoel and Thomas Wood Stevens. Mr. Swanson worked in many mediums and was an untiring student of character and expression. His interest in sculptured relief for medals was aroused while observing the operation of the reducing machine cutting steel dies from sculptors' models.

He made numerous medals and plaques among which are a series of portraits of the presidents of the New York Numismatic Club, the king of Italy, who is an honorary member of the club, and anniversary, commemorative and award medals for many industrial, financial, commercial, social, and religious organizations. The tablets at the approaches to the Ambassador Bridge liking the United States with Canada at Detroit are from models by Mr. Swanson.

His work has been shown at principal art exhibitions in America for a number of years, also at the Royal Academy of London. The Bibliotheque Nationale, and at the French Mint in Pairs, and permanently in a number of museums and private collections both here and abroad. He has been active in several numismatic clubs and societies, at one time being president of the New York Club for three years.

Mr. Swanson gave this explanation of his interpretation of vision as shown on this medallion. The head expresses gratitude for and enjoyment of seeing as the result of the application of the laws of optics, which laws are symbolized by the curves and converging straight lines, the curves represent every kind of lens, since all lenses consist of curved surfaces of some sort. The straight lines and spaces representing light distributed or controlled by refraction from the surface of a lens.


Excerpt From: N.Y.N.C. HISTORY

JONATHAN M. SWANSON (Eighth President of N.Y. Numismatic Club 1923-1925) - Designer of many Club medals, was associated with Whitehead & Hoag. His art work included plaquettes of: First International Exposition of Safety and Sanitation, 1913; Golden Jubilee of the Knights of Pythias, 1914; Centenary of the Battle of Plattsburg, 1814-1914; and Centenary of Star-Spangled Banner, Artist Swanson identified his creations with his name, or in many cases, by a monogram of the letters J.M.S.

Click Here to see a Tillyer version of the AO Swenson Medallion

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