Bust of Abraham Lincoln, Leonard Wells Volk, 1860

The Animal Himself

In the early spring of 1860, while in Chicago arguing a legal case, Lincoln sat for this bust by sculptor Leonard Volk. To create the work, Volk made a plaster mask of Lincoln’s face and took measurements of his torso. According to Volk, when Lincoln saw the final results, he declared it “the animal himself.” Shortly thereafter, Lincoln received the Republican Party’s nomination for president.