ABRAHAM LINCOLN'S HAND
Reproduction of a cast of Abraham Lincoln's right hand, 1886 (after original cast of 1860)Artist - Leonard W. Volk (American, 1828-1895)
The sculptor Leonard Volk learned his craft in New York and settled in Illinois after marrying a cousin of Stephen Douglas, the Democratic politician. Douglas provided Volk with the funds to study art in Rome in the mid 1850s; upon his return to the United States, Volk set up a studio in Chicago. There, in 1858, he first met Abraham Lincoln, during Lincoln's historic debates with Douglas. Lincoln promised to sit one day for Volk, and in the spring 1860 Volk got his opportunity. First, he took a plaster mask of Lincoln's face; later, after Lincoln was nominated for the presidency by the Republican National Convention, Volk determined to execute a full-length statue of the candidate. In preparation, he took plaster casts of both of Lincoln's hands. As he did so, he noticed that Lincoln's right hand was severely swollen from the persistent handshaking of his campaign. This distinction is obvious in the two casts.
The Museum's Abraham Lincoln's Hand is a reproduction of Volk's cast of Lincoln's right hand. The original bears the inscription, "COPYRIGHT 1886 BY LEONARD W. VOLK THIS CAST OF THE HAND OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN WAS MADE FROM THE FIRST REPLICA CAST OF THE ORIGINAL MADE AT SPRINGFIELD ILL THE SUNDAY FOLLOWING HIS NOMINATION TO THE PRESIDENCY OF 1860." The item in Lincoln's hand is a broom handle-Volk had him clutch it to serve as a placement for what would be a rolled document or other object in the finished statue.
Bonded bronze, hand patinated. Height 3 1/2 in., width 4 3/4 inches, depth 6 1/4 inches To clean, wipe with a soft, dry cloth. Do not use water or abrasive cleansers.
Produced in cooperation with the Metropolitan Museum of Art.