Object Record

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Catalog Number 01.C.13
Object Name Medallion
Title Medallion with Portrait of John Paul Jones
Artist Dupré, Augustin
Description Obverse: Bas relief, profile portrait bust of John Paul Jones. Inscription: "JOANNI PAVLO JONES / CLASSIS PRAEFECTO / COMITIA AMERICANA" rendered in relief block letters around top half of the medallion’s perimeter.

Reverse: Naval battle scene with three ships. Inscription: "HOSTIVM NAVIBVS CAPTIS AVTFVGATIS" rendered in relief block letters around top half of the medallion’s perimeter; "AD ORAM SCOTIAE XXIII. SEPT. / M.DCCLXXVIIII. / DUPRÉ. F." rendered in relief block letters within a half circle beneath battle scene.

Label John Paul Jones was the first well-known naval fighter in the American Revolution. In 1779, Jones was granted command of the "Bonhomme Richard," a merchant ship that French mercantile magnate Jacques-Donatien Le Ray rebuilt and donated to the American cause. The scene on the reverse of this medallion commemorates the capture of the British ship Serapis on September 23, 1779, the defining event for Jones’ place in American military history. Augustin Dupré modeled the bas-relief portrait on this medallion’s obverse after Jean-Antoine Houdon’s "tinted plaster cast" displayed at the 1781 Paris Salon. Jones wrote to Thomas Jefferson in 1788, critiquing Dupré’s initial design: "The position of the two ships is sufficiently exact, but the important figures are placed much too near the principal objects, and he has put them on the windward side instead of where they really were… It might be worth while to look at this medal, tho it is not a thing to be copied." The medallion in the APS collection was Dupré’s second commemorative attempt, executed sometime after 1788.
Material Silver metal
Dimensions D-0.188 Dia-2.125 inches
Credit line American Philosophical Society
Search Terms 18th century
eighteenth century
19th century
nineteenth century