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The Mask of Lincoln

The Smithsonian Institution's portfolio version of the National Portrait Gallery's One Life:  The Mask of Lincoln.

The exhibit charts Lincoln’s passage from a fresh-faced Illinois congressman to a troubled visage as he led the fight for the Union, culminating in his grizzled isolation as president. The exhibition shows how Lincoln used the new art of photography to convey his image to Americans, letting them see in him what they most desired.  David Ward, historian, is the exhibition curator.

Also, on view will be a replica of one of two Lincoln's life-masks as created by Clark Mills.  *The original life-mask was created February 11, 1865, about two months before his death.   Abraham Lincoln permitted sculptor Clark Mills to make this life mask of his face. This was the second and last life mask made of Lincoln. The strain of the presidency was written on Abraham Lincoln’s face. His secretary, John Hay, remarked on the dramatic difference in Lincoln’s two life masks. He noted that the first mask, produced by Leonard Volk in 1860, “is a man of fifty-one, and young for his years. . . . It is a face full of life, of energy, of vivid aspiration. . . . .The other is so sad and peaceful in its infinite repose . . . . a look as of one on whom sorrow and care had done their worst without victory is on all the features.”


*Text taken from the National Museum of American History