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Massachusetts Historical Society: Celebrating Lincoln
Banner: Celebrating Lincoln

Life mask and hands of Abraham Lincoln

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Life mask and hands of Abraham Lincoln Bronze sculpture

Leonard Wells Volk made a plaster cast of Abraham Lincoln's face in April 1860 in Chicago, Illinois. A month later, in May 1860, Volk made plaster casts of Lincoln's hands in Springfield, Illinois. Volk sent the first plaster copy of the original plaster cast of the mask and hands to the French painter Jean-Léon Gérôme, who was the teacher of his son Douglas in Paris. Gérôme later gave the casts to the American sculptor Truman H. Bartlett, who had the bronze casts of life mask and hands made in Paris about 1875. The bronze pieces were later given to Alfred Bowditch, whose daughter, Mary Orne Bowditch, gave them to the Massachusetts Historical Society.