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Lady Trefusis Medal: CM.48-2005

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Object information

Current Location: In storage


Artist: Wyon, Allan Gairdner
Issuer: Royal Institution of Cornwall
Issuer: Trefusis, Mary, Lady (Struck in the name of)




Lady Mary Trefusis was sufficiently active as a patron of the arts in Cornwall, particularly of music, that at her death in 1927 a fund was established to provide for various memorial activities. A part of this fund was given to the Royal Institution of Cornwall (RIC) - a learned society based at Truro that had been founded in 1818 as the Cornwall Literary and Philosophical Institution - to enable a medal to be awarded for achievements in the arts. The Institution already awarded the Henwood and Jenner Medals for scientific achievements and the Lady Trefusis Medal was to be awarded for any subject that these did not cover. The medal itself was designed by Allan Gairdner Wyon, and the Fitzwilliam Museum has specimens of his design from his workshop in white metal and in bronze.
The terms of the award do not state how often the medal is to be awarded and in fact the RIC has made only three awards: in 1938 to the local historian William Borlase, in 1939 to Major A. W. Gill for his films of Cornish life, and in 1998 to Mr Ronald Grubb, Secretary of the Cornwall County Music Festival, an annual event that Lady Mary Trefusis founded. By then the medal awarded was the only one the Institution had left. The RIC has Borlase's medal in its collection.
The RIC, whose kind assistance with the history of these pieces the Museum gratefully acknowledges, adds the following explanation of the design, from a letter by Wyon to the then-Curator of the Truro Museum, George Penrose: ' explain the introduction of my signature in the place where it is. The fact is that a horizontal line is necessary to get people to hold the medal the right way up. Unless we resort to some such device the tendency will be for the medal to be held with the head in an upright position, and that would spoil everything.
The charm of the photograph [supplied by Lady Mary Trefusis' husband] is greatly enhanced by the downward look of the head.'


History note: From the estate of the late Mrs Venetia M. Watson, daughter of the artist

Place(s) associated

  • Truro

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Given (2005-01-31) by Watson, Philip Charles


Production date: AD 1938 : undated


White metal specimen

Components of the work

Object composed of white metal Diameter 49.0 mm Die Axis 0 degrees Weight 66.12 g

Inscription or legends present

Inscription present: Bust of Lady Mary Trefusis, head bowed, left

  • Text: THE·LADY·MARY·TREFUSIS 1869-1927
  • Location: Obverse
  • Type: Design

Inscription present: Shield of the Seal of the Royal Institution of Cornwall with crown above, legend around

  • Location: Reverse
  • Type: Design

Identification numbers

Accession number: CM.48-2005
Primary reference Number: 156567
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Monday 28 January 2013 Last processed: Tuesday 13 June 2023

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Coins and Medals

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Lady Trefusis Medal" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-04-16 05:55:04

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{{cite web|url= |title=Lady Trefusis Medal |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-04-16 05:55:04|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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