Abraham Lincoln collection

Inclusive Dates: 
1804–1948
Survey Repository: 

This record forms part of the Chicago’s Art-Related Archival Materials: A Terra Foundation Resource project funded by the Terra Foundation for American Art. For this project, the Archives surveyed archival repositories throughout the Chicago region to identify art-related materials contained in their holdings. While the Archives of American Art does not own any of the materials described herein, information about those materials and links to the original repositories have been included when available.

Descriptive Summary

3 Hollinger boxes (approximately 1.5 linear feet) plus oversize material consisting largely of documents and correspondence by and relating to Abraham Lincoln. Included are a contract and correspondence relating to Augustus Saint-Gaudens’s Lincoln monument [in Chicago?] (1879-1888); letters, photographs, and printed items (1860-1948) relating to the first oil portrait of Abraham Lincoln, by Thomas Hicks, including letters by Hicks; numerous letters (1892-1901) regarding the 1860 photograph of Lincoln by Alexander Hesler; a copy of a circular letter, dated Feb. 1, 1886 and signed by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, Thomas B. Clarke, and Richard Watson Gilder regarding the purchase of the original life casts of Lincoln’s hands and face taken by Leonard Wells Volk; and a letter by Richard Clover, dated, May 25, 1910, regarding a life portrait of Lincoln painted by Clover’s father [Lewis Peter Clover Jr.?].

Biographical Historical Note

President Abraham Lincoln was the subject of numerous portraits and monuments made both during his lifetime and posthumously.

Thomas Hicks was an American portrait painter who created the first painted portrait of Lincoln, commissioned for Lincoln’s first presidential campaign.

Leonard Wells Volk was a Chicago sculptor best known for his portrait busts of Stephen Douglas and Abraham Lincoln. Volk was the only sculptor to make a life mask of Lincoln, and several months later he made a cast of Lincoln’s hands. Volk was active in promoting art in Chicago.

Alexander Hesler was an American photographer, active in Illinois and noted for making photographic portraits of Abraham Lincoln without his beard.

The Standing Lincoln is a 12-foot bronze sculpture designed by Augustus Saint Gaudens beginning in 1884; it was dedicated in 1887. It is located at the southern end of Lincoln Park in Chicago, Illinois, within an exedra designed by architect Stanford White.

Additional Notes

Related collections: Robert Todd Lincoln Manuscript Collection, Isaac N. Arnold papers, Autograph Letterbooks compiled by Chicago Historical Society, Collection Relating to Hicks' Portrait of Lincoln, Charles L. Hutchinson Papers, George F. Rumsey Papers, Leonard W. Volk Miscellaneous Collection, Chicago History Museum.