The Face of Lincoln

Ever since Abraham Lincoln became a national figure, artists have been inspired to depict him accurately and creatively. This is, in part, thanks to the 1860 and 1865 life masks created during his lifetime. They became the basis for portraying and recontextualizing Lincoln, perhaps most famously by Augustus Saint-Gaudens for his famous “Standing Lincoln” sculpture in Chicago.

Another artist who deeply engaged with Lincoln’s life masks was Robert Merrill Gage. Fascinated by Lincoln’s unique face, Gage staged re-creations of the 1860 life mask, including in the 1956 Oscar-winning film, The Face of Lincoln. Gage’s original terra cotta casting of Lincoln was never completed until artist John Short partnered with Clell Hamm to produce first strike bronzes, including this one, which he donated to this library. Like the mask that inspired it, the piece brings us closer to encountering Lincoln as he truly appeared.

Gift of John Clell Hamm and John Rutledge Short, Jr., 2021 

AC-LR2021.17.01 – Face of Lincoln

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