FRENCH AND THE LINCOLN MEMORIAL

What I wanted to convey was the mental and physical strength of the great war President and his confidence in his ability to carry the thing through to a successful finish. If any of this ‘gets over,’ I think it is probably as much due to the whole pose of the figure and particularly to the action of the hands as to the expression of the face.

Daniel Chester French

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Abraham Lincoln was assassinated just after the end of the Civil War on April 14, 1865. By March of 1867, Congress incorporated the Lincoln Monument Association to build a memorial to the slain 16th President. In 1914, as part of a large rehabilitation of the Mall in Washington, D.C., they selected Daniel Chester French to create a statue of Abraham Lincoln for the Memorial that Henry Bacon had been commissioned to design.

French became acquainted with architect Henry Bacon (1866–1924) where Bacon was working for the architectural firm McKim, Mead and White at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. The monument would become their greatest joint effort—a project of eight years resulting in a significant national shrine.

To convey the intellectual and psychological strength of the great president, French made an intensive study of the Lincoln’s character as a result of an earlier commission from the state capitol of Lincoln, Nebraska. He used Lincoln biographies, photographs, and contemporary portraits, as well as a life mask and casts of the President’s hands, to make his work effective and accurate. The work was dedicated on May 30, 1922.

To learn more about the Lincoln Memorial, please visit the National Park Service website.