Bissell, George E. Abraham Lincoln Bronze Bust
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Lincoln, Abraham. George Bissell Bronze Bust The Emancipator signed and dated New York: Gorham Bronze Company, 1898 16-3/4” height; 9-1/2” width (sight)
Produced in the preferred “lost wax” method of the day. Incised with Bissell’s signature and Gorham’s foundry mark, and dated. Rich, dark-brown patina predominates.
An important and highly recognizable tribute work, produced to the highest standard of quality in design and execution of any American bronze. Lincoln is portrayed in a classical style, at the height of his presidency, raised on a square pedestal in the formal manner. The bronze presents wonderfully with warm, brown patina and exquisite detail.
Modeled after Bissell’s 1893 standing, life-sized Emancipator Group in Edinburgh, Scotland, subsequently replicated at Clermont, Iowa in 1903. He had been studying and producing portrait sculpture in Europe, where he obtained the commission for the Edinburgh work while living in Paris. The first Lincoln statue outside the United States, it memorialized Lincoln and honored the Scottish-American Civil War veterans.
This bust version shows Bissell’s ability to capture the personality of his subject and to render that subject in both a compelling and a delicate fashion. Produced for George Bissell at the famous Gorham foundry.
George E. Bissell
George Bissell (1839-1920) was a Civil War veteran, serving with the 23rd CT. and as a Navy paymaster with the South Atlantic squadron. Bissell had originally learned sculpting in his father’s marble business and post-war rejoined his father and specialized in public monuments, crafting life-sized statues. Among his other important public works is the Soldiers and Sailors Monument at Waterbury, CT. and the bronze statue of General Gates on the Saratoga battleground at Schuylerville, NY. Bissell also produced the first Lincoln sculpture erected outside the United States, the well-known (and copied) Emancipation Group (1893) in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Bissell was responsible for Hospitality for the Pan-American Exposition and “both Science and Music for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, winning the silver medal for the latter.
He was known as “Père Bissell” by the younger sculptors who knew him.
Sculptor Loredo Taft stated, Bissell’s work “would seem incredible were it not for the fact that (he) had kept abreast the work of other recognized master sculptors by visiting them frequently and constantly associating with other of skill and attainment. He is a true artist deeply interested in the personalities of his subjects.”
We would add the fact that Bissell, when given his very first commission for a life-size statue in marble, without previous experience, modeled the figure from life and carved it in marble and, as Taft said, “Thus compassing in his first efforts the sculptural and mechanical processes of the art.”