Volk met Lincoln in 1858 through his wife's cousin, Stephen A. Douglas. Lincoln, not yet President at the time, agreed to pose for the sculptor. Two years later, while Lincoln was in Chicago on legal business, he sat for Volk in his studio. In order to eliminate the need for several sittings, the artist made a life mask (Smithsonian Institution, Washington D. C.) that also became valuable to later artists who portrayed Lincoln. Volk's portrait bust depicts Lincoln deep in thought and finds its greatest strength in the simple naturalism representing a vigorous man. This example was cast in 1914 for the Metropolitan Museum by Theodore B. Starr, Inc. from a plaster copy of the 1860 bust.
Signature: [back]: ABRAHAM LINCOLN. / MODELLED FROM LIFE / BY / LEONARD W. VOLK / CHICAGO, 1860 / REPLICA.