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Category: Exonumia



Bronze, UNC

73 mm (2-7/8”), 209.78 grams

HISTORY: Michael Lantz (1908‒1988), American sculptor and medalist, studied at both the National Academy of Design and the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design in New York City. While an instructor for the Works Progress Administration in 1938, Lantz entered an international competition for the design of two statues to be installed in front of the Federal Trade Commission Building in Washington, DC. He won, and it supercharged his career. Ten years later, Lantz was commissioned to create this 37th medal for the Society of Medalists.

Lantz was a lifelong member of the National Sculpture Society, serving as its president from 1970–1973 while teaching sculpture at the National Academy School of Fine Arts in New York City between 1964 and 1980. His brother Walter was a film animator, founder of the famous Walter Lantz Studio, and creator of the Woody Woodpecker character in 1940.

OBVERSE: John the Baptist, the rustic, biblical New Testament preacher, is baptizing a kneeling Jesus on the Jordon River banks. Framing the scene are the words of Jesus spoken at his Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:5), “BLESSED·ARE·THE·MEEK·FOR·THEY·SHALL·INHERIT·THE·EARTH.”

REVERSE: A naked Salome holds aloft the decapitated head of John the Baptist, a rearing horse behind. Salome is not named in the Bible (Matthew 14:1-12), although she was later identified by 1st century Roman/Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (37‒100 AD). Daughter of Philip, the brother of Herod II (27 BC‒33 AD), and his wife Herodias (15 BC‒39 AD), Salome danced before Herod and pleased him. He promised to “give her whatsoever she would ask.” She asked for John’s head per her mother’s request. It was granted.

Lantz used the powerful images of horses throughout his sculptural creations. Here he portrays a stallion rearing with both front hooves raised, signifying death. In statuary, a horse with both front hooves on the ground indicates no wounds to the rider. One hoof raised signifies a wound but no death. Two hooves raised … well, the warrior died.

In the exergue, beneath Salome’s feet, is the signature of “MICHAEL LANTZ ©.”

EDGE: Smooth and rounded, the top edge is engraved “SOCIETY OF MEDALISTS THIRTY-SEVENTH ISSUE 1948 - MICHAEL LANTZ SCULPTOR,” while the bottom edge is engraved “MEDALLAC ART CO. N.Y. BRONZE.”