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Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln
Usage Conditions Apply
Artist
Alexander Gardner, 17 Oct 1821 - 10 Dec 1882
Studio
Mathew Brady Studio, active 1844 - 1894
Publisher
E. & H. T. Anthony & Company, active 1852 - 1901
Sitter
Abraham Lincoln, 12 Feb 1809 - 15 Apr 1865
Date
1861
Type
Photograph
Medium
Albumen silver print
Dimensions
Image/Sheet: 8.6 x 5.4 cm (3 3/8 x 2 1/8")
Mount: 10.5 × 6.2 cm (4 1/8 × 2 7/16")
Mat: 35.6 x 27.9 cm (14 x 11")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Restrictions & Rights
Usage conditions apply
Object number
NPG.79.150
Exhibition Label
This portrait of Abraham Lincoln was taken on February 24, 1861, just before his inauguration on March 4. It has been conjectured that Lincoln is hiding his right hand in his lap because it was swollen from shaking so many hands during his travel from Illinois to Washington. This is also the first studio image depicting Lincoln with a full beard, which he had famously grown between the election and inauguration, purportedly at the behest of a little girl who wrote him from New York that it would improve his appearance. Lincoln was early to recognize the power of the relatively new medium of photography to mold and shape a public persona. He credited a photograph by Mathew Brady, taken when he came to New York City to present himself to Republican Party power brokers, as helping to confirm his suitability for the presidency by showing him well-dressed and dignified. Interestingly, the Brady photograph shows Lincoln standing; in this portrait he is seated, as if ready to begin work as president.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
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National Portrait Gallery Collection