Leonard Volk, Lincoln Life Mask, in plaster


“…There was the Animal Himself!”



Leonard Volk’s Abraham Lincoln Life Mask, in thick plaster; including hanger and stand for display.

Chicago sculptor Leonard W. Volk made a life mask of Abraham Lincoln on March 31, 1860, before Lincoln’s nomination as the Republican presidential candidate. The process involved encasing Lincoln’s face and ears in plaster, allowing the plaster to dry for an hour, and then having Lincoln gradually work the mold off without breaking it. Volk noted that removing the mold “hurt a little,” and Lincoln called the mold making “a process that was anything but agreeable.”

The mold, however, became the basis for several busts and statuettes by Volk that provide a “from life” portrait of the 16th president. Leonard Volk, of course, was only one among many artists to create sculptures of Abraham Lincoln. But he was the only one of whom Lincoln said, “But in two or three days after Mr. Volk commenced my bust, there was the animal himself!”

A detailed mask showing Lincoln as he was.  A string is embedded at the top, used to hang from a metal stand.

(Lincoln, Abraham) Volk, Leonard. Plaster copy of Lincoln life mask, 10″ x 9″, stand height 13″ (approx). 

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