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mammoth print of the Gettysburg Lincoln

(LINCOLN, ABRAHAM.) Alexander Gardner. Abraham Lincoln

Washington, November 8, 1863

Mammoth albumen print (22 x 17 ½ in.), mounted, oval gilt-rule mat. Retouched vignetted enlargement. A few spots, some toning. Very good condition.

This famous “Gettysburg portrait,” with Lincoln looking directly into the camera, was made just days before he delivered the Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863.

A giant of American photography, Alexander Gardner is credited with introducing the large-format Imperial portrait to the United States while working as a staff photographer for Mathew Brady. Gardner left Brady’s employ in early 1863, and his studio quickly rivaled Brady’s for the quality and extent of its war and portrait photography. Gardner first photographed Lincoln as president-elect while working for Brady, and he went on to take Lincoln’s portrait more than any other photographer.

Lincoln sat for Gardner on several occasions, usually visiting his studio on Sunday to avoid crowds. Lincoln sat for this splendid portrait on Sunday, November 8, 1863. His private secretaries John Hay and John Nicolay joined him. Hay noted in his diary that “We had a great many pictures taken … some of the Prest. the best I have seen.” This print emphasizes Lincoln’s head and shoulders, enlarging them to a size rarely seen.

The gilt-ruled paper mat is characteristic of the 1860s and 1870s, with this style of mat being popular during this period. Moses Rice subsequently had access to Gardner’s negatives and routinely signed his prints with his name. Its absence suggests that Gardner himself made this enlargement. He died in 1882.

This is the only mammoth example of the famous Gettysburg portrait that we have seen.

Ostendorf, O-77