Between 1912 and 1948, art competitions were a part of the Olympics. Medals were awarded for architecture, music, painting and sculpture. Here are some notable medalists in those categories.
1. Baron Pierre de Coubertin
The founder of the International Olympic Committee and the man responsible for reviving the Olympic art competitions won a gold medal in literature at the 1912 Games for his “Ode to Sport,” which was submitted under a pseudonym. Were the judges tipped off? We may never know.
2. Mahonri Young
Born 20 days before the death of his grandfather, Mormon leader Brigham Young, Mahonri Young won gold in the sculpture competition at the 1932 Los Angeles Games for his sculpture, titled The Knockdown.
3. Jack Butler Yeats
4. Walter Winans
Walter Winans was one of two people who won an Olympic medal in the arts and one in athletics, and the only person to do it in the same year. Winans, a United States citizen who lived in England, won the silver medal in the team running deer shooting competition and gold in sculpture for his bronze An American Trotter in 1912. Winans suffered a heart attack and died while driving a horse in a trotting race eight years later.
5. John Russell Pope
The architect of the Jefferson Memorial, the National Archives, and the National Gallery of Art won a silver medal at the 1932 Los Angeles Games in architecture for his design of Yale’s Payne Whitney Gymnasium. Pope submitted an entry for the 1936 Games, but did not receive a medal or an honorable mention.
6. Alfred Hajos
The Hungarian won a pair of gold medals in freestyle swimming at the 1896 Athens Games. Nearly 30 years later, Alfred Hajos won silver in the architecture competition at the 1924 Paris Games for his design of the Budapest Swimming Center.
7. Percy Crosby
Percy Crosby created the comic strip “Skippy,” which debuted in 1925, ran through 1945, and was published in 28 countries. During the height of his popularity, Crosby won a silver medal at the 1932 Los Angeles Games in the watercolors and drawings competition for his Jack Knife.
8. Jean Jacoby
Jean Jacoby, from Luxembourg, is the only artist to receive two gold medals in the Olympic art competitions. He won the gold for his painting Etudes de Sport at the 1924 Games and another gold four years later in Amsterdam for his drawing of rugby players [PDF]. Jacoby earned honorable mentions in 1932 and 1936.
9. Aale Tynni
The Finnish poet was the only woman to win a gold medal in the Olympic art competitions. Aale Tynni won the gold in 1948 for her poem “Hellaan Laakeri.”
10. John Copley
The 73-year-old British graphic artist was awarded the silver medal in the engravings and etchings competition at the 1948 Games for his Polo Player. When counting medals from the art competitions, John Copley was the oldest medalist in Olympic history.
11. A.W. Diggelmann
The Swiss graphic artist only submitted works in two Olympics, but he’s the only artist to win gold, silver, and bronze medals, as well as an honorable mention.
A version of this story originally appeared in 2012; it has been updated for 2021.