Shortly before he won the nomination at the Republican Convention in Chicago, May 1860, Lincoln paid several visits to Volk’s studio and gave the sculptor the opportunity to make his life mask as well as his portrait. Lincoln found the process of letting wet plaster dry on his face, followed by a skin-stretching removal process, "anything but agreeable." But he endured it with good humor, and when he saw the final bust, he was quite pleased, declaring it "the animal himself." Volk later used the life mask and bust of 1860 as the basis for other editions, including a full-length statue of Lincoln.
Although a contemporary bronze cast of the life mask was known to exist, its whereabouts were unknown until 1947, when it was discovered in an antique store in New York.
This reproduction is depicted in crushed stone resin from the bronze original work.
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