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Lincoln From Life

April 2023
1min read

Lloyd Ostendorf and James L. Swanson presented an intriguing circumstantial case for Dr. Philip O. Jenkins’s Lincoln canvas in “Lincoln from Life” (March). However, a reader familiar with the literature of Lincoln iconography might reasonably wonder why Jenkins would, years after his supposed sittings with the future President, boast to a prospective customer that he’d once painted not Lincoln but a mere senator. Most of the artists lucky enough to have painted Lincoln from the flesh were quick to let the world know.

The sculptor Leonard W. Volk said that the future President sat for a bust in 1860, then told him, “Mr. Volk, I have never sat before to sculptor or painter—only for daguerreotypes and photographs.” If Volk’s was the first life portrait in 1860, how could Jenkins so qualify with an effort dated four years earlier?

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