Photograph (albumen print)


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(LINCOLN, Abraham) (HESLER, Alexander, photographer). Photograph (albumen print). Philadelphia: George B. Ayers, circa 1894. Albumen photographic print mounted on original board, measuring 6-3/4 by 8-1/2 inches; matted and framed, the entire pieces measures 14 by 15-1/2 inches.

Fine albumen photographic portrait, printed circa 1894 in Philadelphia by George Ayers, of Abraham Lincoln as he appeared three decades earlier, the Republican nominee for President of the United States, as taken by Alexander Hesler in 1860.

Lincoln's face, wrote Charles Hamilton and Lloyd Ostendorf, "is a wonderful face—a good face to look at and to study, for it has just enough mystery so that you can almost, but not quite, touch the man behind it!" (3). The freshly minted Republican presidential nominee (he won on the convention's third ballot, May 18, 1860) sat for this portrait and three others by Chicago photographer Alexander Hesler on June 3, 1860. Of this and one other taken that day, Lincoln said, "That looks better and expresses me better than any I have ever seen; if it pleases the people I am satisfied." William Herndon, his law partner, evaluated this particular image: "There is the peculiar curve of the lower lip, the lone mole on the right cheek, and a pose of the head so essentially Lincolnian; no other artist has ever caught it" (Hamilton & Ostendorf, 46-47). Philadelphia photographer George B. Ayers made this albumen print from Hesler's negative some three decades later: the backing board bears a printed advertising document describing the history of the negative and photograph, with numerous testimonials. This advertising leaf bears the 1894 date, indicating that the print is likely from that time. Hand lettering on the mat is faded but reads "With Malice Toward None With Charity For All," the famous quote from Lincoln's second Inaugural Address.

Original 1894 advertising leaf mounted to backing board is darkened, with a one-inch chip in the middle, still quite legible. Albumen print clean and fine.

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