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The Certain Eye

Gold Wedjat Eye Amulet

On October 24, 2013, as part of a workshop series called The Certain Eye, nine students from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, had the pleasure of gathering in the Study Room of the Robert Lehman Collection to hear Stephen K. Scher, renowned scholar and collector of Renaissance portrait medals, share his expertise on this important genre of Renaissance art.


Image: Gold Wedjat Eye Amulet. Egyptian, Late Period. Dynasty 26–29. 664–380 B.C. Gold. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Rogers Fund, 1923 (23.2.68)

Scher—an alumnus of the Curatorial Studies program himself, and former chair of the Art Department, Brown University—arrived with an important selection of his own medals, complemented by choice objects and wax models from the Lehman Collection, which he introduced and presented to the students for examination. He discussed both the history of these medals and issues of connoisseurship, including his own stories of collecting and the current state of their market.

Stephen K. Scher and NYU students

Dr. Stephen K. Scher speaking to students from the IFA

"Dr. Scher was expert not only in situating these objects historically but discussing almost every medal present on the basis of style and fine connoisseurship. Hearing the depth of his knowledge was a treat equaled only by examining first-hand the medals themselves," said Joe Ackley, a doctoral student in medieval art at the IFA. Thomas Brown, a master's candidate, noted, "Looking at and talking about the medals was very interesting, a highlight of my first semester at the IFA. . .[The German medals in particular] seemed so. . .odd? Eccentric? Anyway, I keep thinking about them."

Curatorial Studies - The Certain Eye

Dita Amory, Acting Associate Curator in Charge and Administrator, Robert Lehman Collection, showing medals from Dr. Scher's collection to IFA students

In the Spring of 2014, James David Draper will lead The Certain Eye workshop, focusing on the exhibition The Passions of Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, which will be on view at the Met March 10–May 26, 2014.