A recent Washington Post article about sculptor Anna Coleman Ladd got me
wondering if she ever designed medals. Turns out she had. Below is an excerpt from the article,
followed by an auction lot I discovered offering one of her medals. -Editor
On the day after Christmas in 1920, a French mailman and
veteran of World War I wrote an American woman named Anna Coleman Ladd to thank her for what she
had done for him during the war.
Ladd knew the veteran, Charles Victor, who had been wounded in the face by a hand grenade in
1915. She had two photos of him.
In one, he is sitting in a chair, wearing his uniform and military medals. He has large ears and
a shock of dark hair, parted on the side. But the lower half of his face is mutilated. Most of his
nose and lips are gone, and his mouth looks crooked and rearranged.
In the second photo, he is sitting in the same chair. But now he is wearing glasses and a jaunty
mustache, and there is no sign of injury.
What Ladd had done for Victor was not plastic surgery.
She was a sculptor. And he was one of the scores of disfigured French and American soldiers for
whom she had made exquisite metal masks to conceal their war injuries.
With the start this summer of the centennial of World War I (1914-18) and increased interest
from researchers, the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Art has posted a cache of
Ladd’s papers online.
The collection includes letters, scrapbooks, photos and notebooks from Ladd’s long career as a
sculptor. And it includes files and photos from her short but fascinating work as director of the
Red Cross mask-making studio in Paris.
“She was a neoclassical sculptor,” said David Lubin, the Charlotte C. Weber professor of art at
Wake Forest University.
“She was very interested in principles of ancient art, the sort of beautiful serene face,” he
said. “And she gives these men .?.?. this almost unreal serenity.”
Perhaps these papers will reveal more of her numismatic work. Here's the
medal, from the Batemans auction site. -Editor
Anna Coleman Ladd (American 1878-1939): a bronze
medallion cast in low relief with a warrior of the Holy Roman Empire and reading 'Serbia
Surrenders Only To God', signed AC Ladd, 25cm diameter.
To read the complete auction lot, see:
To read the complete article, see:
An American sculptor’s masks restored French soldiers disfigured in World War I
Wayne Homren, Editor
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