Penton Medal (1919-1921)

Images from Medallic Art Co., used with permission

Rebeck’s first major commission after returning to war was the Penton Medal for Excellence given by the Cleveland Art Association.  The 2 and 1/4 inch bronze medal was given by John A Penton of the Penton Publishing Company.  This medal was given for excellence in all lines of art work for local artists in the annual May Show from 1919 to 1921.  The medal was struck by the Medallic Art Company in bronze.  However, a special silver medal was struck for Henry G. Keller “in honor of the maintained excellence of his work in many lines.”  Rebeck donated four plaster casts of the medal as well as molds for both the obverse and reverse sides to the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Education Department in 1919. 

Cleveland Topics wrote:

When the Art Association of Cleveland wanted a sculptor for the medal of award for the late Exhibition of Cleveland Art, the medal having been given by Mr. John A. Penton, of this city, Rebeck was chosen.
In this first work done since his return to Cleveland, the artist’s work has undergone a change that may logically be traced to his overseas experience.  His medal shows a keener appreciation of beauty—a depth of feeling that is the product of an awakened thought.  He has recognized beauty as the essential in art, the note which, more than anything else, finds the artist’s niche.

The medal’s observe side shows a figure symbolic of art, holding the torch of knowledge in her right hand and a laurel in the other.  To the right of the figure are the symbols of art, formerly three jars, but latterly changed to shields.  Just inside the circumference of the medal in print appears, “The Penton Medal for Excellence, Cleveland.”  The reverse side contains a tablet on which is engraved the name of the person receiving the award and the department, whether painting, sculpture or handicraft, and the date.  Two sprigs of laurel are crossed underneath the tablet and in print the words, “Awarded by the Cleveland Art Association.”  The fine modeling of the figure, the beauty of the laurel and the delicacy and refinement of the medal as a whole indicate the splendid character of the sculptor who believes art to be a divine gift.

Another versions of this medal was created for use in 1922, also by Rebeck, and is listed separately on the Works page.


“Medals Given for Cleveland Art Displays,” Cleveland Plain Dealer.  Found in the Cleveland Institute of Art Scrapbook, June 22, 1919.

“Presentation of the Penton Medals,” Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art.  July 1919, p. 112.

“Cleveland’s Greatest Sculptor Resumes Studio,” Cleveland Topics, July 5, 1919.

Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art. September-October, 1919, p. 132.

Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art. December 1919, p. 162.

Bulletin of the Cleveland Museum of Art. May 1922.

“Stephen A. Rebeck and Works on Sculpture.” Fine Arts Review. April 1923, p. 4-6, 23.

Exhibition of American Sculpture Catalogue.  New York:  National Sculpture Society, 1923, p. 205, 310, 361.

Also thanks to Dick Johnson who provided information on the Medallic Art Company medals.