Right Hand of Abraham Lincoln
Leonard Wells Volk American
Augustus Saint-Gaudens American
In 1860 Volk made molds of the face and hands of Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865). The life mask (2007.185.2) reproduces Lincoln’s beardless face as it appeared during his first presidential campaign. The hand 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.
This artwork is meant to be viewed from right to left. Scroll left to view more.