Abraham Lincoln Life Mask by Clark Mills, 1865

Abraham Lincoln Life Mask by Clark Mills, 1865

Description
On February 11, 1865, about two months before his death, Abraham Lincoln permitted sculptor Clark Mills to make this life mask of his face. This was the second and last life mask made of Lincoln. The strain of the presidency was written on Abraham Lincoln’s face. His secretary, John Hay, remarked on the dramatic difference in Lincoln’s two life masks. He noted that the first mask, produced by Leonard Volk in 1860, “is a man of fifty-one, and young for his years. . . . It is a face full of life, of energy, of vivid aspiration. . . . .The other is so sad and peaceful in its infinite repose . . . . a look as of one on whom sorrow and care had done their worst without victory is on all the features.”
Gift of Theodore Mills, the artist’s son, 1889
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
mask, life
date made
1865
associated person
Lincoln, Abraham
Mills, Clark
maker
Mills, Clark
Physical Description
plaster (overall material)
painted (overall production method/technique)
Measurements
overall: 7 in x 8 1/2 in x 9 in; 17.78 cm x 21.59 cm x 22.86 cm
ID Number
PL.004853
catalog number
4853
accession number
21843
Credit Line
Theodore A. Mills
subject
Presidents
See more items in
Political and Military History: Political History, General History Collection
Government, Politics, and Reform
Selections from the Abraham Lincoln Collection
Data Source
National Museum of American History

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Comments

I saw the second Life Mask, made two months before Lincoln's death, at a Medical Museum, founded after the Civil War, and located at Walter Reed Hospital, in Washington DC. This was in 2000, and I believe the museum has moved to another location since then. It was filled with medical oddities from the Civil War, and was quite fascinating. But Lincoln's mask, exhibited with the bullet that killed him, was overpowering. I must have stood there, staring at it for well over an hour. The anguish he suffered from the War was on that face. I remembered the experience as having seen Lincoln's Death Mask, but I stand corrected by information exhibited here. It must have been the second Life Mask. Where is it now, I wonder?
When I was working as the technologist for students with disabilities for a local community college here in Hampton, Virginia, I downloaded the 3D scanned file of the Clark Mills life mask. I printed it 1-to-1, full size on a MakerBot Z18 3D printer so my students with visual impairments could "see" what Abraham Lincoln looked like. It's a amazing piece. The piece took 99 hours to print. It now hangs in my office.
I was given a " copy of the copy " of Abraham Lincoln' s death mask from David W. .King, who told me that he received it from a friend of his that he knew who owned a museum from across the street of the Ford theatre where Lincoln was shot. David was a sculptor in Washington D..C. His was married to Beulah Hecht, who owned an interior de coating company in Washington, D.C.
There was never a Lincoln death mask, they were both life masks. Please address that properly.

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