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Life Mask of Abraham Lincoln

Artist:
Leonard Wells Volk (1828–1895)
Artist:
Augustus Saint-Gaudens (American, Dublin 1848–1907 Cornish, New Hampshire)
Date:
1860, cast 1886
Medium:
Bronze
Dimensions:
L. 8 in. (20.3 cm)
Classification:
Sculpture
Credit Line:
Purchase, Jonathan L. Cohen and Allison B. Morrow Gift and Friends of the American Wing Fund, 2007
Accession Number:
2007.185.2
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 762
In 1860 Volk made molds of the face and hands of Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865). The life mask reproduces Lincoln’s beardless face as it appeared during his first presidential campaign. The hand (2007.185.1) grips a broomstick, a prop that Lincoln improvised upon Volk’s suggestion that he hold something cylindrical resembling a document. In 1886 Saint-Gaudens, the collectors Thomas B. Clarke and Erwin Davis, and the journalist Richard W. Gilder together purchased the original plaster casts to present to the Smithsonian Institution. To finance the donation, they sold bronze and plaster casts after Volk’s originals, with production supervised by Saint-Gaudens.
Inscription: COPYRIGHT 1886 BY LEONARD W VOLK
THIS CAST WAS MADE FOR R W GILDER - A SUBSCRIBER TO THE FUND FOR THE PURCHASE AND PRESENTATION TO THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT OF THE ORIGINAL MASK MADE IN CHICAGO APRIL 1860 BY LEORNARD W VOLK FROM THE LIVING FACE OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. THIS CAST WAS TAKEN FROM THE FIRST REPLICA OF THE ORIGINAL IN NEW YORK CITY FEBRUARY 1886
Richard Watson Gilder, 1886–d.1909; by descent in family to great-grandson Anthony Palmer; [Gerald Peters Gallery, New York, 2007]
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