National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
"I fell in love with her and . . . I have never fallen out."
It is difficult to know the character of the Lincoln relationship. When Lincoln wed Mary Todd in 1842, he married into a well-established Illinois family. Mary was strong-willed, capricious, and adamant. When she eventually showed signs of derangement, her instability colored discussions of her earlier years. Both of Lincoln's secretaries hated her and gained their revenge in their memoirs of the White House years. But from the best evidence, Lincoln was patient with a woman who could be difficult, not least because she suffered terribly at the death of their sons. After Willie died in 1862, she became increasingly fearful and detached, worrying about Lincoln himself, consulting spiritualists, and spending time away from Washington. This small sketch seems to show her departing on such a trip, and the artist has juxtaposed the figures to suggest a gap or tension between them that will never be fully known.