Artist Name


birth11/26/1894 in New York CityPicture of Gaetano Cecere
death1/1/1985 in Greenwich, CT
parentsRalph Cecere and Catherine La Rocca
educationNational Academy of Design
Beaux-Arts Institute of Design, New York
Teacher, Cooper Union Institute
Teacher, Mary Washington College
American Academy in Rome
awardsPrix de Rome, 1920
Rinehart Fellow at American Academy in Rome, 1920-23
National Academy of Design's Helen Foster Barnett prize, 1924
Honorable mention, Chicago Art Institute, 1927

Gaetano Cecere, known as Guy, was born in New York City in 1894. Most of his life was New York centric – he lived there for the majority of his life, and much of his work and education was based there as well. He studied under Hermon Atkins MacNeil and worked for the marble carving firm of Piccirilli Brothers. His service during World War I earned him a Soldier's Medal for heroism. In 1920, after winning the Prix de Rome, he was the Rinehart Fellow at the American Academy of Rome. During this period, his style developed considerably and he began to emphasize the simplicity of form.

He met his future wife, Ada Rasario, at the Academy. Ada was a painter and distinguished artist in her own right. Upon returning to the United States, he was named the Director of the Department of Sculpture at the Beaux-Arts Institute of Design, where he taught Contemporary and Ecclesiastical Sculpture. He continued to teach, concurrent with his practice, for most of his life. In 1924 he won the Helen Foster Barnett prize for his idealized bust of Persephone. In the 1940's he was one of seven distinguished sculptors chosen to participate in redecorating parts of the U.S. Capital Building's House of Representatives Chamber. Among other works for this project, he created rondels of three great lawmakers of Western History, including Alphonso X of Medieval Spain and Augustus. Conservative in style, classical and well-researched, Cecere was a perfect fit for this and other dignified, often 'official' commissions.

He also did quite a bit of medallic work. His medals include the Soldier's Medal of Valor (1930), the Columbia Broadcasting System medal (1931), the eighth medal in the Society of Medalists series (1933), the American Academy in Rome Alumni medal.

Gaetano Cecere was a member of the National Sculpture Society, the National Academy of Design, and the Architectural League of New York.

Other than this, not much is known about Gaetano Cecere. If you have any information about his life, professional or personal, please contact us!

Sourced mainly from Wikipedia and the sources listed in the Resources section.



You can click on the medals to see the reverse.

Soldier's Medal for Valor1930
GC-MV
Bronze

On a 1 3/8 inch wide Bronze octagon an eagle displayed, standing on a fasces, between two groups of stars of six and seven, above the group of six a spray of leaves. On the reverse is a shield paly of 13 pieces, on the chief the letters "US", supported by sprays of laurel and oak, around the upper edge the inscription "SOLDIER'S MEDAL" and across the face the words "FOR VALOR." In the base is a panel for the name of the recipient to be engraved. The medal is suspended from the ribbon by a rectangular-shaped metal loop with corners rounded.

In 1922 the War Department recognized acts of bravery should be acknowledged and began issuing orders for acts of bravery during times of peace. Because of this, an Act of Congress (Public Law 446-69th Congress, 2 July 1926 (44 Stat. 780)) recognized the Soldier's Medal of those acts of valor that did not concern direct encounter with an enemy. The Quartermaster General, on 11 August 1926, was ordered by the Secretary of War, via a letter signed by The Adjutant General, to plan and propose fitting designs of the Soldier's Medal. The Secretary of War applied for aid in creating a design from the Secretary of Treasury in a letter on 18 January 1927. On 22 January 1927, the Secretary of Treasury indicated in a letter of response that the Director of the Mint to ask the Engraver of the Mint at Philadelphia to propose blueprints and a prototype. On 22 June 1927, the Philadelphia Mint finished and sent the proposed design to the Commission of Fine Arts for their comments. The Secretary of War heard form the Commission of Fine Arts in a letter on 27 February 1928 that, "It would be a very serious disappointment to this Commission, after all its struggles to obtain good medals, to have to rely on work of this character. One of the fundamental objections to the designs submitted is a lack of that simplicity which should characterize all medals of the highest class. The designs and casts are disapproved and returned."

On 20 January 1930, Cecere was sent a letter from the Quartermaster General requesting blueprints and suggesting that the War Department would pay no more than $1500.00 for blueprints and a prototype. On 5 May 1930, his blueprint was approved by the Commission.

The original images can be found on the website of the Smithsonian Institute.

Columbia Broadcasting System1931
GC-CBS
Plaster model

The obverse bears a nude with lyre in front of Pegasus; signed GAETANO CECERE 1931. The reverse bears a grouping of transmission towers, lightning bolts, and wings, surrounded by wreathes and text in concentric circles. Legend reads FOR DISTINGUISHED CONTRIBUTION TO THE RADIO ART | OVER THE COLUMBIA BROADCASTING SYSTEM. The medal's diameter is 102mm or 4in.

The medal was awarded "for Distinguished Contribution to Radio" and by 1934 only six people had received it. They were: Colonel Charles Lindbergh, Sir John A. Reith, director general of the BBC, Leopold Stokowski, conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra, Amelia Earhart, Nino Martini, Metropolitan Opera tenor, and Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd, Antarctic explorer.

The medal is part of many museum collections, including the Smithsonian Institute, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Cornell University Library, which has a beautiful image online.

The original images can be found on the website of the Smithsonian Institute.

References: Marqusee 104

Pegasus and Men 1933
SOM-8.1
Dark matte brown
SOM-8.2
Light brown-gold
SOM-8.3
Deep graphite brown
SOM-8.4
Silver

This medal was chosen as the eighth issue of the prestigious Society of Medalists series. The medal's obverse bears male and female nudes stretching towards the sky, winged Pegasus rearing at left. Below, signature G. CECERE / © 1933.

The reverse bears twin peaks with a small tree growing at their feet with stars above. Above, concentric two-line legend, THERE IS NO EASY WAY FROM THE / EARTH TO THE STARS.

It was created in the middle of the Great Depression and, in Cecere's own words, symbolizes

"the age-old inner urge of a large portion of humanity - its never-ceasing struggle to free from the bondage of the sordid and material, its aspiration toward a higher place of existence."

He dedicated his medal to "those who are fighting adversities while maintaining a vision of a higher goal."

The medal measures 73mm in diameter and had a reported production of 1,287 in bronze and 125 in silver.

References: Marqusee 107

SOM-8.1
Bronze
73.0mm (2.87in)
Dark matte brown
THE SOCIETY OF MEDALISTS EIGHTH ISSUE
MEDALLIC ART CO.N.Y.
SOM-8.2
Bronze
73.0mm (2.87in)
Light brown-gold
THE SOCIETY OF MEDALISTS EIGHTH ISSUE
MEDALLIC ART CO.N.Y.-BRONZE
SOM-8.3
Bronze
73.0mm (2.87in)
Deep graphite brown
THE SOCIETY OF MEDALISTS EIGHTH ISSUE
MEDALLIC ART CO.N.Y.-BRONZE
SOM-8.4
Silver
73.0mm (2.87in)
THE SOCIETY OF MEDALISTS EIGHTH ISSUE - ONE OF LIMITED ISSUE OF 700
MEDALLIC ART CO.N.Y. - .999+ PURE SILVER
American Academy in Rome Alumni Medal1935
GC-AAR
Plaster model

The American Academy in Rome began as a collaborative effort in 1893 at the World's Columbian Exhibition when a small group, including architects Charles Follen McKim and Daniel Burnham, painters John LaFarge and Francis Millet, and sculptors Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Daniel Chester French, resolved to create a center to study art amid the classical tradition of ancient Rome. Each year, through a national juried competition, the Academy offers approximately 30 Rome Prize fellowships.

Cecere himself was a fellow and designed this medal. The obverse is still used on the baldric of the AAR and as the obverse of the American Academy in Rome's Centennial medal, which is the highest honor awarded by the Academy.

The original images can be found on the website of the Smithsonian Institute.

Herbert Adams Memorial Award1945
GC-HAMA
Plaster model

In 1946 the National Sculpture Society ran a competition to create an award medal. Named after Herbert Adams, the NSS', the society's two-times president and honorary president for life, the award was to honor an individual who had advanced American sculpture. Gaetano Cecere competed with the design on the right but lost to Thomas Lo Medico, who won first prize with a design that yielded this medal.

The plaster model representing Cecere' entry into the competition came from his estate via Strawser + Smith.

American Theater
GC-AT
Plaster model

This is another plaster model from Cecere's estate is a design for a medal honoring American Theater.

I have no information about the date or the background for this model and have not been able to find any competition for which this model might have been created. Any additional information would be highly welcome.

This plaster model also came from Cecere's estate via Strawser + Smith.


  • Persephone

    Persephone (1922)

    Cecere created this idealized bust of Persephone in 1922. It gained him acclaim among his peers and won him the National Academy's Helen Foster Barnett prize in 1924.

    Persephone is a figure from Greek mythology. Also called "Kore," she is the daughter of Zeus and the harvest goddess Demeter. Persephone was abducted by Hades and became the queen of the underworld. She carries into effect the curses of men upon the souls of the dead.

    This image comes from the Smithsonian Institute's website.

  • Eros and Stag

    Eros and Stag (1930)

    Cecere created this sculpture in 1929/1930. Brookgreen Gardens acquired a copy for its collection in 1936.

    This is an example of Cecere's classic, early style. Later in life he broke a bit with tradition and became more abstract.

    A larger uncropped version of this image is available at Gordon Shecket's website.

  • American Manhood

    American Manhood (1939)

    This statue was one of two that Cecere contributed to the New York World's Fair of 1939. American Manhood and American Womanhood formed a pair that stood at the entrance to the Home Furnishings Building at Bowling Green. In the artist's own words:

    "American Manhood was conceived to depict the young worker carrying the fruits of his labor. The dog by his side, symbolizes companionship and protection."

    A larger uncropped version of this image is available at the New York Public Library's digital collection.

  • American Womanhood

    American Womanhood (1939)

    This statue was one of two that Cecere contributed to the New York World's Fair of 1939. American Manhood and American Womanhood formed a pair that stood at the entrance to the Home Furnishings Building at Bowling Green. In the artist's own words:

    "American Womanhood depicts America at home, where the young mother guides her child on the path of life."

    A larger uncropped version of this image is available at the New York Public Library's digital collection.



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

New York Public Library
Press photographs of Cecere's New York World's Fair statues.
Smithsonian Institute
Collection of photographs of Cecere and his works.

Museums