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    Description

    Abraham Lincoln: Dated 1860 Plaster Bust by Leonard Volk. 12" hollow plaster bust of a beardless Lincoln, sometimes referred to as the "nude" or Hermes bust. It has incised inscriptions on either end: "L. W. Volk Sculptor 1860." and "Patented June 12. 1860". A 24" version was also produced which included the name "Lincoln" on the front. In the Spring of 1860, Lincoln traveled to the Chicago studio of Leonard Wells Volk and underwent the disagreeable process of sitting for a life mask. Volk used this as a basis for a bust. A companion bust in marble had been done for Stephen Douglas, Volk's wife's cousin, completed in the period 1857-1859. Given the amount of work involved in producing a marble bust, it is doubtful that one was made for Lincoln, a mere "prospect" at the time. After Lincoln's nomination at the Wigwam in Chicago, Volk traveled to Springfield to present a "cabinet size" [12"] version of the bust to Mary Todd. He also prevailed upon the candidate to have his hands cast in plaster. Years later, likely after Lincoln's death, Volk produced a clothed bust of Lincoln, wearing the toga of a Roman statesman. These more modest versions were produced in both beardless and bearded format. Despite the inclusion of a patent date on this bust, unscrupulous competitors copied the work and marketed versions of their own. Very few examples of either the Volk bust or pirated versions are still extant.

    Volk's work has been cast and recast over the years, making dating of his artworks problematic. The only busts that we can date with certainty are the 12" and 24" versions of the nude bust, as both are twice-dated 1860, were advertised for sale in newspapers of the time, with a preliminary version gifted to Mary Todd (its present disposition unknown). To the best of our knowledge, the nude busts were only produced in 1860. This example is hollow and is in excellent condition. The cataloger has seen another example with a solid head and hollow body. Apparently, these differences can be attributed to different production runs and "fine tuning" by the sculptor. While the 24" life-size version is most impressive, this cabinet size version is ideal for display.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    September, 2016
    17th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 1,812

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