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Lincoln From Life

July 2024
1min read

The authors reply: We did not overlook Volk’s recollections. Lloyd Ostendorf’s research on Volk’s March 1860 life mask appeared several years ago in an article that he coauthored with Harold Holzer. Nor did we neglect Thomas Hicks, who also claimed the honor of being told by Lincoln in June 1860 that he was the first artist to render Lincoln in any medium other than photography. We do not know that Lincoln said those things to Volk or Hicks; we only know that these artists said that Lincoln said those things—more than twenty years later. No evidence corroborates their hearsay recollections.

Mr. Holzer wonders why Jenkins would write to the Secretary of the Treasury, Benjamin Bristow, in 1874 and say that he had just painted Senator Logan but fail to mention that he painted Lincoln years before. The answer is obvious. Jenkins mentioned the Logan portrait because it was in his possession, at his Washington, D.C., studio, and available for Bristow to view. The Lincoln portraits were back in Illinois; Jenkins did not mention them because they were not on hand to show Bristow. Mr. Holzer’s complaint that Jenkins kept his portrait a secret actually supports the authenticity of the canvas. Because Jenkins did not attempt to exploit the portrait, he had absolutely no reason to lie about the date he painted Lincoln. In any event Mr. Holzer should know that several artists who enjoyed life sittings did little or nothing to promote themselves.

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