Historic City Hall explores image of President Lincoln in exhibit

By 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.”