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Abraham Lincoln Courter Painting

Courter, Franklin. Abraham Lincoln Oil Painting


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Courter, Franklin C. ABRAHAM LINCOLN. Oil portrait on panel, of Lincoln wearing spectacles, signed lower right by Franklin C. Courter. 11.5″ x 15.5″ (image); 18″ x 22″ (overall).

A three-quarter, shoulder-length view based on a photograph of Lincoln and son, Tad, taken by Anthony Berger at Brady’s Gallery, Washington , D.C. , February 9, 1864 [Ostendorf, O-93A].

This particular image is one of the most popular of Lincoln, partly because it was of him reading. But this close-up of him wearing spectacles is one of Courter’s finest! The colors remain both vibrant and warm, causing a true 19th century feel. Here, certainly, is “Father Abraham.”

Franklin Courter (1854-1947) – Born in New Jersey, Courter attended Albion Preparatory School of Albion College where he devoted a great deal of time to art. In 1888, he was appointed Professor of Drawing and Painting at Albion College, and went on to become Head of the Art Department. He also served as Art Director for the Austin Manufacturing Company in Harvey, IL, from 1896 to 1899.

Lincoln became Courter’s enduring passion, producing numerous studies of Abraham Lincoln from 1870 until his death at age 90. He dedicated himself to collecting anything that related to the 16th President, including photographs and life masks.

Courter’s mammoth painting of Sojourner Truth giving a bible to Lincoln was exhibited in the Michigan building at the World’s Fair in 1893. Commissioned by the Kellogg cereal family, it was later destroyed by fire; but the oil had gained him recognition and a wealthy Armenian immigrant, Dikran Bedikian, commissioned Courter to paint several Lincoln portraits. His knowledge of Lincoln’s physiogamy, along with his passion for the man, led to over 25 oils.

Courter later wrote: “Since that picture was painted, every angle of the subject has been of interest. All biographies, photographs, and engravings, the life mask, and full descriptions of his complexion and other data are made a deep study, for the sole purpose of realizing as nearly perfect as possible every characteristic. Over 40 years of almost constant study of Lincoln for historical purposes brings one to be acquainted with his subject. One may safely say this is a life portrait.”