In 1971, over a century after Dr. John Snow's death, Abram Belskie, the famed medallic artist and sculpture, created a bronze medal of John Snow.

FRONT SIDE (Click for Larger Image)
BACK SIDE (Click for Larger Image)

Along with John Snow in the Belskie series were nine other prominent medical scientists who greatly impacted the time of John Snow and beyond. Included in the bronze medal series were: Robert James Graves (1796-1854), Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis (1818-1865), Richard Bright (1789-1858; also found in 1859 London map), Pierre Charles Alexandre Louis (1787-1872), Dominique Jean Larrey (1766-1842), Claude Bernard (1813-1878), Thomas Addison (1793-1860), J. Marion Sims (1813-1883), and Thomas Hodgkin (1798-1866; also found in 1859 London map).

ABRAM BELSKIE

Belskie was a British-born sculptor, starting life In London, England on March 24, 1907 and ending on November 7, 1988 in Closter, New Jersey, USA, now the site of the Belskie Museum of Art and Science. He was 64 years when he finished the John Snow bronze medal.

While born in London, Belskie was raised in Glasgow, Scotland, and at age 15 became an apprentice to a local painter and started classes at the Glasgow School of Art. Four years later at age 19 he graduated from the School of Art, having received a prize that allowed him to study art on the European continent. In November, 1929, twenty-two year old Belskie packed his belongs and left for New York City, where he found a studio job with London-born sculptor John Gregory. During the following three years, Belskie helped Gregory in the fabrication of bas-reliefs for the façade of the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC. Before the work was finished, Belskie at age 24 moved to Closter, New Jersey, where he remained until his death in 1988. In Closter, at first he worked at the studio of the master-carver Robert Alexander Baillie and then later became an independent artist.

The seeds for the medal series were planted in 1938 when the prominent American scultor and author Malvina Hoffman introduced Belskie (photo at right) to the eminent physician Dr. Robert Latou Dickinson (photo at left). Dr. Dickinson was an obstetrician and gynecologist, and significant figure in American sex research. He pioneered the creation of medical models for teaching students anatomy, procedures and diagnoses. Dickinson knew that the effectiveness of such models relied on keen eye and hands of a scupture, rather than a physician, and upon meeting Belskie, a bond was created. A year later in 1939, the first fruits of their collaboration were displayed in an exhibit on Maternal Health at the New York World's Fair of 1939. Over the next 11 years until Dickinson's death in 1950, the two collaborators created thousands of medical models.

Great Men of Medicine Series

Belskie began his career as a medallic artist in 1952, two years following the death of friend and mentor, Dr. Dickinson. For years he created medallions, many of them medical in nature, including the group of ten medical scientists commissioned for commercial sale by the Presidential Art Medals, Inc. of Englewood, Ohio (PAM - see base row of enlarged John Snow medal) and struck with the Medalilic Art Company, then in New York (Great Men of Medicine Series). While it is not clear who suggested to Belskie the group of 10 medical scientists for the bronze medals (as well as an identical silver series) which he created during the late 1960s and early 1970s, likely the seed was planted by Dr. Robert Latou Dickinson.

Besides Dickinson, Belskie worked with other physicians. Though he was not a doctor, he became a full faculty member of the New York Medical College, where he taught several generations of physicians. Abram Belskie was also the first forensic artist, pioneering the field of reconstructing features postmortem.

Sources:

Anonymous. Abram Belskie, Wikipedia, 2011.

Anonymous. Abram Belskie, Belskie Museum of Art and Science, Coster, New Jersey, USA, 2011.

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