Lincoln, Abraham (1809-1865) Photographic Portrait by Alexander Gardner (1821-1882) Washington, D.C., 9 August 1863.
Large oval photograph on an evenly-toned beige paper, depicting Lincoln in a three-quarter view, with touch-ups along eyebrows, eyelids, pupils, the edges of the nostrils, and a line where the lips meet, in a period mahoghany oval frame with inner gilt oval, 21 x 16 in. overall, the photograph itself, 15 x 12 in. O-121 from Charles Hamilton and Lloyd Ostendorf's Lincoln in Photographs.
According to the diary of John Hay, Lincoln's secretary, on Sunday August 9, 1863, Hay and the President went to Alexander Gardner's photo studio for a portrait session. Gardner used two cameras on the occasion, one with four lenses that took four images on a single plate at once, and a single-lens camera. Gardner's studio would officially open to the public on the following day, and Lincoln wished to be the photographer's first subject. A Sunday was chosen so that the President might avoid, in his words, curiosity seekers. Lincoln's hair and whiskers are so distinctive, and often unruly, their appearance helps to place each of his known portraits. In this session, his hair is fairly closely cropped, and under control. Gardner has captured the President in several sitting and standing poses; the full-length and three-quarter shots include the same ornate table with a marble top. In his diary, Hay noted, "I went down with the President to have his picture taken at Gardner's. He was in very good spirits."
Provenance: Descended through the Hay family through John Hay (1838-1905), who was present at the photo session, to his son Clarence Leonard Hay (1884-1969) m. Alice Appleton, and thereby to his son John Hay (b. 1915).
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