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A Biography of Oscar Roty (1846-1911)

Louis-Oscar Roty (1846-1911) is one of the most celebrated medallists of the Art Nouveau period. Born in Paris, he first studied painting and sculpture, working under Lecoq de Boisboudran, Dumont and Ponscarme. His mentor François-Joseph-Hubert Ponscarme (1827-1903) was largely responsible for the renewal of medallic art at the end of the nineteenth century. In 1867 he had abandoned the medal rim in his design for his medal of Naudet, the background and graphics becoming part of the sculpture. Roty, along with Champlain, Charpentier and others, influeced by the Art Nouveau movement, advanced this resurgence of art in medal design. Roty, in particular, introduced the plaquette, which further emphasized the significance of the medal as a work of art. He designed hundreds of art medals celebrated for their graceful designs.

Following some difficulties early in his career, in 1982 Roty won the second prize in the Prix de Rome. This success was followed by many others, including the Grand Prix de Rome in 1875 and the Grand Prix at the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris. He was appointed to the rank of Professor in the Académie des Beaux-Arts in 1888, and in 1897 became its President. In 1889 he became an Officer in the Legion of Honor and rose to Cammander in 1900. At the height of his career, he was awarded the Medal of Honor at the Salon in 1905. In 1878 Oscar Roty married Marie Boulanger, daughter of the wrought iron craftsman Pierre Boulanger. Besides a huge number of medals and plaquettes, Roty is well known as the designer of the “Semeuse” image on French silver coins and stamps. His medallic art can be found in nearly all European museums. A large number of his medals and plaquettes can be viewed in the Kunsthalle Hamburg and the Musée Oscar Roty in Jargeau, France.

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