Object Record

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Catalog Number 01.C.07
Object Name Medallion
Title Medallion with Relief Portrait of Thomas Paine
Date after 1793
Description Small, plaster, bust-length portrait relief of Thomas Paine within an oval medallion. The top center of the medallion has been fitted with a small brass loop. Medallion appears to have been cast in plaster from a mold. Finishing touches were probably added by hand and may have included smoothing (especially of mold seams, one of which is visible at the top center of the medallion’s outside rim) and light burnishing. The reverse of the medallion is marked "T. Paine" in script. While this inscription closely resembles Paine’s signature, it was likely not signed by Paine himself. The maker and date of this object are presently unknown, but it may have been created after the 1793 print by William Sharp.
Label Thomas Paine traveled to America in 1774 at the urging of Benjamin Franklin, when tensions between the colonies and Great Britain were reaching fever pitch. In Philadelphia, he edited the "Pennsylvania Magazine" and published numerous editorials, articles, poems, and satirical prints. In 1776, arguing that America should demand independence (rather than simply revolt against taxation), Paine published "Common Sense," his most famous compilation of writings. Beginning with the memorable line, "These are the times that try men’s souls," this series of pamphlets paved the way for the Declaration of Independence later that year. After the American Revolution, Paine engaged in radical political reform in England and France. While there are no identifying maker’s marks or signatures on this plaster medallion, the three-quarter relief portrait strongly resembles William Sharp’s 1793 print (after George Romney’s 1792 portrait in oil, now lost). Both Romney and Sharp were among Paine's circle of radical English reformers, and Sharp's engraving quickly became the most familiar image of Paine.
Material Plaster
Dimensions H-4.5 W-3.625 D-0.75 inches
Credit line American Philosophical Society
Search Terms 18th century
eighteenth century
sculpture