British Museum collections, £12.99
Diameter: 74.000 mm
Gift of W.E. Watts
Room 47: Europe 1800-1900
Silver frosted bronze medal of St. Thomas's Hospital, by William Wyon: The Cheselden Medal
London, England, AD 1827
A prize for medicine
William Cheselden (1688-1752) was one of the leading and most prestigious English surgeons of the early eighteenth century. He was the principal surgeon at St Thomas's Hospital from 1719 and a specialist in the extraction of bladder stones. He was also the author of Anatomy of the Human Body (1713) and Osteographia, or the Anatomy of Bones (1733), which were used as texts by anatomy students for nearly a century. The latter also had very fine, elegant and accurate illustrations.
William Wyon (1795–1851) was from the Birmingham family of token, medal and seal engravers. He worked at the Royal Mint from 1815, combining work on coinage with lucrative private commissions. He was Chief Engraver from 1828. He had a long rivalry with Benedetto Pistrucci, both had their champions among the antiquarian community. Wyon was a keen proponent of Neo-classicism, and was particularly impressed by the work of the sculptor John Flaxman; in 1834 Wyon stated the orthodox view that the 'third era' of the Greek art was 'the Period when the art [of coin engraving] arrived at the highest point of Excellence, that it ever attained, or, perhaps, ever will attain.' Wyon's accurate portraits, with high quality standard of engraving made him the preeminent medallist of nineteenth-century England.
M. Jones, 'The life and work of William Wyon' in La medaglia neoclassica in Ita (Udine, 1984), pp. 119-40