WIENER


WIENER, family of medalists active in Belgium. JACQUES (1815–1899) was the oldest of three brothers who were to become famous as medalists. Born in the Rhineland of Hungarian immigrants, he was apprenticed at the age of 13 to his uncle L. Baruch, a fine engraver in his own right. The two signed some earlier medals jointly. At the age of 30 Wiener was the first to conceive the idea of engraving in precise detail the exterior and interior of a monument on the obverse and reverse of a medal. He engraved with great delicacy ten medals of famous Belgian churches. This he followed with a series of 41 medals, issued between 1850 and 1865, illustrating the most famous European buildings. He also engraved the first Belgian stamps, and for many years was head of the government plant issuing these stamps. Among the hundreds of medals of this master, there are several of Jewish interest, e.g., the 1841 Opening of the Jewish Home for the Aged in The Hague and the 1861 Opening of the Synagogue at Cologne.

Leopold (1823–1891) studied with his older brother Jacques and then became a pupil of David d'Angers in Paris. In 1847 he returned to Belgium and started engraving a series of large historical medals which commemorated contemporary events and became very popular. In 1864 he was appointed first engraver to the Belgian mint, holding the post until his death. He was responsible for all the currency of Leopold II – some 150 pieces. At the same time he continued striking medals. He also had a considerable reputation as a sculptor; several of his monumental works still adorn public places in Belgium. One medal of special Jewish interest is his 1859 portrait study of Henri Loeb, chief rabbi of Belgium.

Charles (1832–1888) was the third and youngest of the Wiener brothers and, perhaps, had the most brilliant career. He studied at Brussels and Paris where he was a student of Oudiné. In 1865 he settled at The Hague as engraver to the king of Holland, but moved to London, where he was assistant engraver at the Royal Mint. He then went to Lisbon as chief engraver of the Portuguese coins. Returning to Brussels in 1867, Charles devoted himself to medals, which he produced in large number, some in conjunction with his brother Jacques. His English pieces have best withstood the test of time. Of Jewish interest are three portrait medals: E.A. Astruc, chief rabbi of Belgium; Jules Anspach, mayor of Brussels; and a dual portrait of Sir Moses and Lady Judith Montefiore.

[Daniel M. Friedenberg]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.