National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Born Hardin County, Kentucky
In 1858, at the time of his fourth debate with Stephen Douglas, Abraham Lincoln yielded to the request of Mrs. Harriet Chapman for a photographic portrait. When sending the resulting image to Chapman, who was his stepmother’s granddaughter, Lincoln noted, "This is not a very good-looking picture but it’s the best that could be produced from the poor subject." One of several contemporaneous copies of the original portrait, this laterally reversed ambrotype presents a mirror image of its subject, so that Lincoln’s distinctive mole appears on the left rather than the right side of his face.