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The Lincoln Family, J.C. Buttre, publisher: New York, 1867. After a painting by Francis B. Carpenter. Mezzotint engraving. (Special to the American Press)

The Lincoln Family, J.C. Buttre, publisher: New York, 1867. After a painting by Francis B. Carpenter. Mezzotint engraving. (Special to the American Press)

Historic City Hall explores image of President Lincoln in exhibit

Last Modified: Thursday, August 01, 2013 11:18 AM

By Warren Arceneaux / American Press

Artifacts ranging from campaign buttons to a songbook will be among the items on display at the “Abraham Lincoln: The Image” show at the Historic City Hall Arts and Cultural Center.

The opening reception was Friday, Aug. 2 but the exhibit will be on display through Oct. 12. More than 70 items will be on display. The exhibit includes memorabilia from Lincoln’s entire political career, as well as some items created after his death.

“About 74 objects in the exhibit, they come to us from Indiana State Museum,” said Denise Fasske, city cultural affairs director. “The exhibit consists mainly of 59 labeled objects, including lithographs, prints, campaign buttons, campaign stationery, lapel ribbons, even song books that contain pro-Lincoln lyrics set to popular songs.”

Works in the exhibit were selected from the Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection’s huge collection of Lincoln prints. Not all of the objects are pro-Lincoln.

“The collection includes various political cartoons,” Fasske said.

“Images span from 1857-70, from his first senatorial race, which he lost, but gained enough notoriety to be a candidate in Republican convention. The gallery is laid out in chronological order from that first campaign to his death. In those days, many artists would publish flattering images of him and some that would appeal to his enemies. They would make a lot of money from prints and lithographs that were displayed in family parlors.

“As you move through gallery, it brings you to ‘Honest Abe’-type portraits. They were very popular. Lincoln’s face reveals strength and determination, things that people liked about him. He did not have a beard until after the presidential election, but the public loved seeing him with it, so printmakers took old photos and made lithographs that put a beard on them.”

Fasske said some of the memorabilia was not accurate.

“Not all of them are correct; one of the works is called ‘Abe Returns Home’ after a campaign, but he never went out and campaigned. Some are sensationalized.”

Fasske said Lincoln never saw what would become the most popular depiction of him

“It is a lithograph called ‘The Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation,’ ” she said. “He was supposed to review the first copy, but died before he received it.”

Some of the exhibit focuses on Lincoln’s legacy.

“It tells the story of his being made into a saint after his death,” Fasske said. “Americans held him sacred, along with religion and George Washington. There are works which showed Washington as father of the country and Lincoln as savior of the country.”

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