Lincoln 1860

Lincoln 1860

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Earliest Lincoln "Image" Discovered?

Is this miniature painting the earliest depiction of Abraham Lincoln? While surfing for my daily dose of Lincoln, I stumbled upon a news release from the Verona, New Jersey Historical Society telling of the discovery of this miniature.

The discovery of this 2" by 2.5" miniature occurred in a house in New Jersey owned once upon a time by a Mildred Downing, whose great aunt was married to Mary Todd Lincoln's brother. This small painting was found among a cache of items which may have some strong ties to Mrs. Lincoln. Present were a Mary Todd Lincoln china doll head and some trunks with potential association with her.

Experts contacted have determined that this miniature dates to the early 1840's, probably around 1842. If this is truly an image of Abraham Lincoln, it predates the earliest known photograph of him taken in 1848.

There is far more information about this miniature at this website put together by the family who found it. I'm not an artist by any stretch of the imagination, but to my eyes, it doesn't look much like Lincoln. Of course, I've seen other prints and paintings of Lincoln which don't look like him at all, either. I admit, the provenance of this miniature is intriguing, being found in a house with connections to Mary Todd. But I'd personally feel much better about the authenticity if the discovery family didn't cite their experience with a mentalist, i.e. a "mind reader" who stunned them with his pronouncement that they had found a Lincoln image.

I hope I'm wrong and I hope that the family has indeed discovered the earliest known image of Lincoln. It just reminds me in an uncomfortable way of the so-called Kaplan image of a young Abraham Lincoln. That is an actual daguerreotype, not a painting, of a young man whom some claim is the earliest known photo of Lincoln. I don't buy that one, either, and most historians don't, to my knowledge. And the Kaplan image looks more like Lincoln than this miniature does.

Still, it's intriguing. What do you think?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

At first glance there is some similarity but I don't think so. There is the cleft chin but the eyes don't seem right. AS you mentioned, sometimes the artist takes liberties but it seems a little too much NOT like Lincoln

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