Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Emile Monier goes to Africa

If you like art deco, ethnography and have an appreciation of the skills and artisty of medal designers/engravers; then Emile Monier and his African tribes medals tick all the boxes. This series of bronze medals date to c1930, the dies are beautifully engraved and the quality of the minting is excellent.


This series of medals were commissioned by the Paris Mint to commemorate the 1931 Paris, Colonial and International Exhibition. Each medal represents an ethnic group from countries in French West Africa, with the members of the each group in profile on the front with a map of the country on the reverse. I was able to find reference to these medals being illustrated in various art review publications in period, including the "Beaux-Art" 1930 and in "Revue de l'art ancien et moderne" in 1931.

I do not know the full extent of the series, so far I have seen 8 different designs, perhaps there are more ?


and the Ivory Coast

Mauritania and Sudan

Emile Monier (1883-1970)

At the time of this commission Emile Adolph(e) Monier was already an established sculptor/medallist, having exhibited at the Salon des Artistes Francais, winning the Grand Prix l'AOF in 1927/8. From the quantity of bronzes still around he must have been commercial quite successful. So far I have failed to find much biographical detail to add to his story. 

He was son of the writer Felix Joseph Monier (1856-1926) and was married to the artist book illstrator Margaret "Maggy" Monier (1887-1965). They, together with his mother are buried in a tomb in the old cemetary in Châtenay-Malabry with the tomb being decorated with bronze plaques by Emile. In the same cemetary the medallist Lucian Bazor is also buried.

Other referneces to Emile suggest that at sometime he studied under the tutelage of Francois Ponscarme (1827-1903), Victor Peter and Felix Maurice Charpentier (1858-1924); all of which would indicate time spent at study in Paris.

Above is a small bronze plaque of an art nouveau design by Emile - I found reference to this work being exhibited at the Salon in 1912. This created by the age of 29 years - he had certainly mastered his art, especially capturing life; she looks so pleased !! He went on to exhibit other works at the Salon, receiving the Medaille d'Honneur in 1948 and then being invested as a Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur.

.......... and to finish --- for now. I return to the Colonial exhibition with this medal designed by E Martin.

I had originally included a pictue of the medal shown below, believing it was part of the Colonial series. However, I was wrong - in fact this medal was created for the 1935 Paris; Conference Economique de la France Metropolitaine et d'Ovtre-Mer. Which explain the Marianne figure hiding amongst the tribes !!

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