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Lincoln’s Portrait

The standing portrait of Lincoln (left) was created soon after the American Civil War. Although it hung in many classrooms, Lincoln never posed for it. Instead, an unknown entrepreneur created it by cutting-and-pasting a headshot of Lincoln taken from a photograph by Mathew Brady (middle) onto a portrait of the Southern leader John Calhoun (right). This was done because there were hardly any appropriate ‘heroic-style’ portraits of Lincoln made during his life. In the Calhoun image, the papers on the table say “strict constitution,” “free trade,” and “the sovereignty of the states.” In the Lincoln image, these words have been changed to read, “constitution,” “union,” and “proclamation of freedom.”

Links and References
MacDougall, C. (1958, 2nd ed.). Hoaxes. Dover Publications: 80.
Mitchell, W.J. (1992). The Reconfigured Eye. MIT Press: 204-208.


All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.