The life size portrait of Abraham Lincoln by W.F.K. Travers joins the "America's Presidents" exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery. Created from life in 1865, the 9-foot-tall oil on canvas is one of three known, life-size paintings of the 16th president. The historic work comes to the National Portrait Gallery on long-term loan from the Hartley Dodge Foundation, whose founder, Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge, acquired the painting from her family in the 1930s.
"Travers' painting only adds to the story of the 'America's Presidents' exhibition," said Nicolas W. Platt, president of the Hartley Dodge Foundation. "It is rich with symbolism that speaks to Lincoln's history and accomplishments. Next to the Constitution you see the artist's nod to the Thirteenth Amendment, which Lincoln supported, and the globe in the background is positioned on Haiti, as Lincoln was the first to recognize it as an independent nation in 1862."
The portrait is joined by a tactile display that offers a more inclusive experience of the Portrait Gallery’s casts of Lincoln’s face and hands. Designed for blind visitors and those with low vision, the display presents a free-standing structure with 3D-printed copies of one face mask and a set of two hands by Leonard Volk and one face mask by Clark Mills. It is positioned next to the glass-enclosed plaster casts from 1917 (based on the originals by Volk in 1860 and Mills in 1865). The presentation will include object information in braille and new audio content featuring guided descriptions and further historical insight.
By engaging these additional senses, the Lincoln tactile display will enhance the experience of the objects for all visitors.