Artist Name

birth6/10/1913 in St. Louis, MOPicture of Elisabeth Gordon Chandler
death11/29/2006 in Middletown, CT
parentsHenry Brace and Sara Ellen (Sallee) Gordon
education The Brearly School & Miss Spence's School, New York (1919-27),
The Lenox School, New York (1928-31),
Art Students League of New York
Honorary Doctorate from St. Joseph's College (2001)
awardsFirst Place, Brooklyn War Memorial competition
Gold medal, National Arts Club (1971)
Gold medal, American Artists Professional League (1982)
Thomas R. Proctor Prize, National Academy of Design
Awarded by Pen and Brush
Awarded by the National Sculpture Society (1992)
Awarded by the Hudson Valley Art Association

Elisabeth Gordon Chandler was born in 1913 in St. Louis, Missouri. Her father, Henry Brace, worked at Abbott Precious Coin Co., a manufacturer of medals and coins, and later became county treasurer. Her mother, Sallee, worked as a bookseller. At a young age, she moved to New York and began studying harp, becoming quite an accomplished harpist. She studied anatomy with Robert Beverly Hale at the Art Students League of New York but decided to focus on the harp. From 1933 to 1946 she was a member of the Mildred Dillinger Harp Ensemble, rising to second harp, yet she never got over her other artistic passion, sculpture. By the 1940s, she was studying sculpture with Edmondo Quattrocchi, an Italian sculptor. Hale and Quattrocchi were most likely the primary influences over her growing style.

From 1940 to 1942 Chandler worked as a Sculpture Assistant to Walter Russell, working on the "Four Freedoms," a monument requested by President Roosevelt to remind the nation of the philosophical foundation of its fight. She also joined the "Musical Therapy Division," an organization to help Veterans. Eventually, Chandler became known as a talented bust sculptor.

On May 27, 1946, she married businessman Robert Kirtland Chandler. For the next sixteen years the couple lived together in New York City before resettling in Old Lyme, Connecticut in 1962. She once said that she was looking for more peace and quiet than she could find in the city. Robert died in 1967, leaving her widowed after twentythree years of marriage. She plunged herself back into work and in 1976 she founded the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts, an institution still running today. Chandler felt passionately that in the contemporary Western art world, traditional artistic education and representational art was no longer prevalent. The school's mission was to reintroduce those values to the next generation of artists. She devoted the rest of her life to the school, becoming the first professor of sculpture and a noteworthy trustee.

In 1979 Chandler remarried. Her second husband, Laci de Gerenday, was, like her, a renowned sculptor. She had known him for a long time from her involvement with the National Sculpture Society but after the death of his wife their friendship had grown deeper. He moved to Old Lyme and assisted her at the Academy, becoming a professor of sculpture as well. Sadly, de Gerenday died in 2001, leaving Chandler widowed again.

Chandler and de Gerenday are the only couple to have both been showcased by the Society of Medalists series chronologically, de Gerenday having been selected to design the 103rd medal and Chandler the 104th. In addition to the Society of Medalists medal she created numerous other medals, including the United States Capitol Historical Society's George Washington — 250th Anniversary Medal, and the Benjamin Franklin, Albert A. Michelson and Jonathan Edwards medals for the Hall of Fame for Great Americans Series.

She won many awards and gained recognition and membership from the National Sculpture Society, the National Academy of Design, the American Artists Professional League, and the International Institute of Arts and Letters. Through her life, Chandler was married twice and, sadly, widowed twice. She took her first husband's last name, Chandler, and kept it as her professional name even when she remarried. She had no children of her own but on the occasion of her 90th birthday Lyme Academy threw her a birthday party. Hundreds of her former students showed up to wish her well. She just said:

"I never had any children. Now I have thousands.

Elisabeth Gordon Chandler died in Middletown, Connecticut at the ripe old age of 93.

Sourced mainly from Wikipedia and the Lyme Academy's website. Many thanks to Loree Bourgoin, Sue Joffray, and Diana Atwood Johnson from Lyme Academy for their assistance.

You can click on the medals to see the reverse.

Enrichment of Life 1981
by Elisabeth Gordon Chandler
Golden bronze with tan patina

This medal was chosen as the 104th issue of the prestigious Society of Medalists series.

The obverse bears a sculptor carving a statue of the muse of painting. Above, ENRICHMENT OF LIFE; below, VISUAL ARTS.

The reverse bears a ballerina with swan, treble clef, masks of comedy and tragedy to right. Below, PERFORMING ARTS; between words, E. Gordon Chandler.

In the brochure accompanying this medal Elisabeth Gordon Chandler said:

"The greatness of any age is measured by the quality of its art and literature. Two of the greatest periods in the recorded history of art were the Golden Age of Greece and the ... Renaissance throughout Europe."

The medal measures 73mm in diameter and was produced by the Medallic Art Company. It is reported to have struck 750 pieces in bronze.

73.0mm (2.87in)
Golden bronze with tan patina
SOM-104 Romance Brochure
Of Forest and Marsh 1997
Golden bronze

This was the 25th of the prestigious Brookgreen Gardens member medals, issued in 1997.

The obverse bears raccoon mother tending to baby raccoon in tree. Around, BROOKGREEN / GARDENS

The reverse depicts mother egret with two baby egrets in nest; two egrets flying in marsh background. Below, SOUTH CAROLINA

The medal measures 76mm in diameter and was produced by the Medallic Art Company.

This section has yet to be written.

Contact me if you have links that might merit inclusion on this page.

Books & Articles

American Art Medals, 1909-1995 by David Thomason Alexander
David T. Alexander's book can be purchased at the above link. Highly recommended for anyone interested in SOM. I am deeply indebted to him for all the information I used to document the SOM medals on this site.

Research Archives and Websites

Lyme Academy - About the Founder
Lyme Academy's hommage at Elisabeth Gordon Chandler.
Local Poet, Sculptor Receive Governor’s Arts Awards
Article about Elisabeth Gordon Chandler's and Laci deGerenday in The Day, September 27, 2000.
A Fine Life of Fine Art
Article about Elisabeth Gordon Chandler in The Day, May 1, 2005.
A Marriage Of Art And Passion
Article about Elisabeth Gordon Chandler's and Laci deGerenday in The Day, July 27, 2006.
Elisabeth Gordon Chandler, Lyme Academy Founder, Dies
Elisabeth Gordon Chandler's obituary in The Day, December 1, 2006.