Dear Mr. Peterson:
In its meeting of 20 October, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed the proposed designs for the sixth set of ten-dollar gold coins and associated medals in the First Spouse series. Overall, the Commission expressed disappointment with the quality of the submissions—criticizing the compositions as overly complex and the portraiture as poorly rendered, often anatomically awkward, and failing to convey a positive character for the subjects. The Commission reiterated its previous advice to engage skilled artists, provide profile portraits, and develop simple compositions appropriate to the small size of numismatic art. The Commission's specific recommendations were as follows:
Alice Paul (for the term of President Arthur). The Commission regretted the poor quality and lack of a profile pose among the submitted alternatives for the obverse and recommended alternative #5, commenting that the prominent hat or hair in the other alternatives is overly distracting from the face. For the reverse, the Commission criticized the prevalence of complicated compositions and recommended alternative #4 as the simplest design.
Frances Cleveland (first term). The Commission expressed appreciation for the inclusion of a profile portrait but found its artistic quality insufficient, recommending instead obverse alternative #7 as the best portrait. For the reverse, the Commission criticized the excessive complexity of the compositions and ominous quality of the drawings, recommending alternative #5 due to the positive character of the portraits and the harmonious composition within the circular form of the coin and medal.
Caroline Harrison. The Commission recommended the profile pose of obverse alternative #5 while criticizing the generally grim character of the facial expressions among the alternatives. For the reverse, the Commission recommended alternative #1 due to its interesting composition of circular forms.
Frances Cleveland (second term). The Commission did not recommend any of the submitted obverse alternatives, commenting on the generally unpleasant facial expressions, the awkward relationship of the head to the neck, and the lack of a profile pose among the alternatives. The Commission similarly offered no recommendation for the reverse, criticizing the complexity of the submitted compositions while suggesting further development of the theme of education.
The Commission requests the submission of new alternatives for its review where none could be recommended. As always, the staff is available to assist you.
/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA
Richard A. Peterson, Deputy Director
United States Mint
801 9th Street, NW, 8th Floor
Washington, DC 20220
cc: Kaarina Budow, U.S. Mint