Making Abraham Lincoln Anew--and in bronze

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An inspired collaboration has been taking shape at President Lincoln’s Cottage as part of the lead up to the Lincoln Bicentennial celebration.

Washington developer Robert H. Smith is generously sponsoring a new sculpture memorializing Lincoln’s association with this important site to be completed before the end of 2008.

Mr. Smith’s proposal to place a new Lincoln sculpture at the recently restored summer cottage, that Lincoln occupied between 1862-64, will add great significance to StudioEIS’ historical works and has challenged the studio to find another dimension to the man who sat so formally for Brady’s camera.

In 1862 President Lincoln, heeding the advice of close advisors, made for higher ground - about three miles from the White House, where a slightly cooler summer could be had and he could find retreat from the White House, the heat and the war. Lincoln’s retreat also produced what is considered one of the defining documents of his presidency – The Emancipation Proclamation - now thought to have been originally drafted during this period at the Cottage.

Developing an image of Lincoln and his trusted circuit horse was a little bit daunting: designing a suitable illustrative story that would eventually become the blueprint for this new sculpture would have to be found to make this new bronze sculpture a worthwhile endeavor. Making a new image of Lincoln, precisely because he holds such an extraordinary place in American popular memory, was harder than one might have thought. No President, with the possible exceptions of Washington and JFK, has been as indelibly etched in our visual conscious-unconscious minds as Lincoln.

Designing this new sculpture has meant careful research resulting in a synthesis of history and art where small revelations can still be had - even in the well-trodden area of classical sculpting. Our conversations with curators and historians at Ford’s Theater, The National Museum of American History, The Illinois Historical Society, and several Lincoln Museums along with equine & saddlery experts have contributed greatly to our understanding of Lincoln, and in the course of our study, we have also measured some of Lincoln’s clothing including his extraordinary and iconic top hat, examined the original Volk life-mask and casts of his hands, and looked at every photograph made of him. Funnily enough, many believed that a photograph of Lincoln existed showing him riding a horse, which, as it turned out, was not the case....

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