Maker: Leonard Wells Volk , American, 1828 - 1895
Date: modeled 1860, cast 1880
Dimensions: height: 17 in. (43.2 cm.)
Credit Line: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens
Object Number: 24.10
Label Text: On May 18, 1860, Leonard Volk made a life mask of Abraham Lincoln by covering the future president's face in plaster, letting it set, and carefully removing it. Volk then used the mask to create numerous bronze sculptures, including this "short-bust Lincoln," so called because it includes just the head and neck. Because it was based on an impression taken directly from Lincoln's face, the work has a freshness and level of detail that captures the intensity of the 51-year-old presidential candidate. At the time of the life mask, Lincoln did not yet wear the beard that would later become an iconic part of his popular image. The numerous copies of Volk's cast of Lincoln reflect the cult of personality that grew up around the president, which became even more intense after his assassination in 1865. This cast was made after 1880, 15 years after his death, to serve as a remembrance.