Volk, Leonard; [Lincoln, Abraham]

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Price: $35,000.00

Condition: Near fine
Book Id: 252


A RARE LEONARD VOLK LIFE MASK OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN FROM THE RAAB COLLECTION. A Near Fine example of Leonard Volk's Life Mask of Abraham Lincoln originally created by Leonard Volk in 1860. In 1860 Sculptor Leonard Volk made molds of the face and hands of Abraham Lincoln (1809 to 1865). The life mask reproduces Lincoln's beardless face as it appeared during his first presidential campaign. According to Volk, getting Lincoln to sit for the casts was an adventure. Volk wrote that one morning in 1860, he was reading the newspaper and saw that Lincoln was arguing a case in Chicago. Volk immediately tracked down Lincoln at a courthouse and found him with "his feet on the edge of a table, one of his fingers thrust into his mouth, and his long, dark hair standing out at every imaginable angle, apparently uncombed for a week." The unkempt Lincoln remembered Volk. The two had met in 1858, and Lincoln had promised to sit for Volk one day. That day came on two days after their courthouse reunion. Volk remembered hearing Lincoln come up the steps to his studio. He wrote, "My studio was in the fifth story, and there were no elevators in those days, and I soon learned to distinguish his steps on the stairs, and am sure he frequently came up two, if not three, steps at a stride". Volk cast Lincoln's face in the first sitting. Having never sat for anything but a photograph, Volk said Lincoln was unsure of what to do with himself. To break the ice, Volk's assistant Matteo Mattei entertained Lincoln with a story about a botched casting of a Swiss gentleman's face (one that Mattei had done alone). Apparently, Mattei's humor warmed Lincoln to the idea of having plaster poured all over his face. Though Lincoln's casting went quite well, Volk noted that: "…being all in one piece, it clung pretty hard, as the cheekbones were higher than the jaw at the lobe of the ear. He [Lincoln] bent his head low and took hold of the mold and gradually worked it off without breaking or injury. It hurt a little, as a few hairs of the tender temples pulled out with the plaster and made his eyes water." Very shortly after their casting sessions were over, Lincoln received the Republican party nomination for president.The Mask has been replicated beginning in 1880, and replicas of it are difficult to date. However, this mask was purchased from, and once resided at, Dawn Manor and was purchased at the May 2012 sale of Helen Raab's art and antique collections held there. [As noted in the news article on the then-coming sale: "The art and antique collections of Helen Raab housed at Dawn Manor that have been seen by few but members of her family in decades will go on sale ... The mansion was built in 1855 by Captain Abraham Vanderpoel, a lumber baron, signer of the Wisconsin Constitution and friend of Abraham Lincoln." Helen Raab, a noted collector in her own right, was the widow of George Raab and the sale was held at the direction of great-grandson George Raab.] Given that the Raab's were excellent and discriminating collectors, and given the signs of age to the mask itself (such as the visibility of a goodly number of Lincoln's pores, we believe that this is an early replication of Volk's Mask and estimate it to have been produced in the late 19th to early 20th Century -- perhaps between 1880 and 1910 or so. [In 1886 Saint-Gaudens, the collectors Thomas B. Clarke and Erwin Davis, and the journalist Richard W. Gilder together purchased the original plaster casts to present to the Smithsonian Institution. To finance the donation, they sold bronze and plaster casts after Volk's originals, with production supervised by Saint-Gaudens.][In 1942, Helen Raab of Milwaukee bought Dawn Manor. She had it restored and remodeled by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Her husband, George Raab, a famous Milwaukee artist, died the following year. Helen Raab restored the home and then began to fill it with art, antiques, books and collectibles. She had collected many of the items in her 15 world tours. Raab died in 1970. Since then the home has been used only occasionally by the family. The Wisconsin Historical Marker erected for Dawn Manor in 1955 reads as follows: "Here on the Wisconsin River the Village of Newport was begun in 1853, planned for a population of 10,000. Assuming that the Milwaukee and LaCrosse Railroad would cross the river here, over 2,000 settlers quickly came to Newport, causing a lively land boom. When the bridge and dam were ultimately located a mile upstream after an alleged moonlight survey, Newport was almost completely deserted in favor of Kilbourn City (today Wisconsin Dells). Only Dawn Manor, with its servant quarters, remains. Dawn Manor was completed in 1855 by Capt. Abraham Vanderpoel, friend of Lincoln and signer of the Wisconsin Constitution. The home is built of Potsdam sandstone, white mahogany and white pine, put together with brass screws and wooden pegs. Dawn Manor houses the art collection of George Raab, one of Wisconsin's famous artists."]

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