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Scudder, Janet Front and back of Centennial Medal, 1916


Janet Scudder was born in Terre Haute, in Vigo County, Indiana. She studied at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, with Lorado Taft in Chicago and Frederick MacMonnies in Paris, and at the Pitti Palace Academy of Fine Arts in Italy. For a time after her Cincinnati studies she had a studio in Terre Haute to teach woodcarving, but there were no students. She then moved on to become, according to William Forsyth, “the most distinguished woman artist born in Indiana.”

She assisted Taft in designing statues for the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, where she won a medal. In Paris she worked with clay and plaster, experimenting with various forms of sculpture: portraits, busts, memorial tablets, medallions, statues, and finally fountains. According to Forsyth, she was best known for her fountains. She executed some in the United States, for example, for J. D. Rockefeller at Pocantico Hills, New York; Harold McConnick at Lake Forest, Illinois; and Alexander Hudnut in Princeton, New Jersey, following her visit to the United States in 1912. She had a studio in Paris after 1908, and completed many successful commissions. Her work, according to Forsyth, was the first of an American woman sculptor to be purchased for the Luxemburg Museum in Paris. She was in France during World War I and served in the French Red Cross.

She returned to New York City to contribute more to the war effort, and remained there. In her Madison Avenue studio, she continued to create fountains, medallions, and other works of art. She received many prizes for her work. Children were a favorite subject for her sculptures.

  • Front and back of Centennial Medal, 1916
  • 1 1/2″ diameter
  • Indiana Historical Bureau
  • Keywords: sculpture, casts
  • Subjects: bronze, outdoors, people, men, women, children, state seals, medallions

This medallion was designed for the centennial celebration in 1916 of Indiana’s statehood. The inscription reads, “THE ADMISSION OF INDIANA TO THE UNION.” The tall figure of Columbia represents the United States welcoming her new child, Indiana, to the Union. In the background there is a small illustration of the territorial capitol and Constitutional Elm in Corydon. The artist’s name is at the bottom left inside the border. The back, or reverse, presents an artistic rendering of the state seal design that had been traditionally used. The hanger at the top originally had a small red, white, and blue ribbon, but it is also designed for use with a chain.

Some Points To Consider

  • Ask students to describe the function of a medallion. How do they think Hoosiers might have used it in 1916? What are some reasons for issuing a medallion? Ask them to list some similar commemorative items common today. (Art 4.1.2)
  • Have students compare the two styles on the front and back of the medallion. What cultural style can they identify in the sculpting? The figure symbolizes Columbia. Ask: What does Columbia symbolize? (Art 4.2.2)
  • Remind students that the seal design on the back of the medallion has become an icon of Indiana. What other icons can they describe that are associated with the state? (Art 4.1.3)