A sketch created by Williams during a competition to design a new medal of honor for the National Sculpture Society in 1940
Collection open to all researchers.
Wheeler Williams sketch drawings and photograph, 1940-1963, Archives, American Numismatic Society
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Wheeler Williams (1897-1972) studied sculpture at the Art Institute in Chicago, the city where he was born. He graduated from Yale in 1919, after having served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Balloon Corps during World War I. He earned a masters degree in architecture at Harvard in 1922, the same year he was awarded a medal from the American Institute of Architects. Deciding to devote himself to sculpture, he left for Paris and attended the École des Beaux-Arts before returning to the United States in 1928, where he worked both in New York City and California. Examples of Williams’s public sculpture include tablets honoring French pioneers (Michigan Avenue Bridge, Chicago, 1930), a relief of an Indian bowman (United States Post Office, Canal Street Station, New York City, 1938), a sculpture featuring Venus for the Parke-Bernet Galleries building (New York City, 1949), and a Robert A. Taft memorial (Washington, D.C., 1959). His medals include Stephen Potter (Phillips Exeter), Chester Plimpton (Yale), American Spirit Honor (U.S. Army), Insignia (Citizens Committee for Army and Navy), Colin Kelly, John Flanagan (Century Association), and 50th Anniversary (Medallic Art Company Competition, 1950). Williams, who served as president of the National Sculpture Society and the Fine Arts Federation of N.Y., was an outspoken critic of some modern art, testifying before the House Committee on Un-American Activities where he spoke out against works selected to be displayed at the United States Exhibition in Moscow in 1959.
Contains 31 sketch drawings by the sculptor Wheeler Williams, most of which are round, suggesting the resulting pieces were intended to be medals, plaques, or medallions, predominately on onionskin paper. It is not certain to what degree these preliminary drawings resulted in completed works. Includes multiple sketches relating to the competition to design a medal of honor for the The National Sculpture Society, which was won by Henry Kreis (1940); a sketch showing a man with a sword battling a bear, with a dropped sickle visible; a design for a Platform Speakers Award, Speakers Rostrum Award, or Speakers and Lecturers Award; a first sketch of the Prudential Wave of Life medal, based on Williams’s fountain for the Prudential office in Houston, Texas; sketches for a World Peace or Federation of the World medal; a sketch for Citizen's Committee for Army and Navy medal; designs for International Society Arts and Decoration and the American Psychiatric Association; one featuring the words "Plenty" and "Power”; several for the United Nations, including some with "Peace, Liberty, Justice" and "Brotherhood of Man"; a study for a Siamese cat executed in terra cotta for the late Lillian Cotton, portrait painter; a drawing of a fox on a pedestal; a portrait drawing of Williams's daughter, Diana (July 23, 1940); a preliminary study for a statue of Sir Winston Churchill in Washington, D.C. (1963 - two sheets); a design for a World War II memorial for the Harvard Club, New York City; a sketch design featuring the words "Only the Productive Can be Strong and Only the Strong can be Free"; two sketches similar to Williams's relief of an Indian bowman at the United States Post Office on Canal Street in New York City; and a large sketch of a donkey and tail used by children to play a game of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, with labeled tack holes. Also includes a photograph mounted on board of a mural in a restaurant at the 1933 Chicago World's Fair, which was later exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.