A NEW SCULPTURE OF ABRAHAM
On Wednesday, November 18, StudioEIS was
honored, when after more than a year of
work, our sculpture of Abraham Lincoln was
dedicated at The National Military Park
and Visitor Center in Gettysburg, PA.
Ivan Schwartz was introduced by Richard
Moe, President of the National Trust for
Historic Preservation, whose great book,
‘The Last Full Measure’, is
considered a seminal text by Civil War historians.
As one of the key note speakers the other
night, he spoke about creating public memory
- in the case of Lincoln by developing a
new sculpture of our 16th President that
depicts him in a more naturalistic way than
the several hundred previous major American
The sculpture portrays Lincoln as he was
on November 19, 1863 – 146 years after
his Gettysburg Address was delivered to
those gathered to principally hear Edward
Everett, the great 19th century orator,
who was the keynote speaker on that occasion.
Lincoln took the train on the 18th of November
from Baltimore and spent the night in the
Wills house in the center of town, where
he continued to craft the speech well into
the night with a member of his cabinet.
His address came to be regarded as one of
the greatest speeches in American history.
In just over two minutes, Lincoln invoked
the principles of human equality espoused
by the Declaration of Independence and redefined
the Civil War as a struggle not merely for
the Union, but as "a new birth of freedom"
that would bring true equality to all of
its citizens, and that would also create
a unified nation.
StudioEIS was commissioned more than a year
ago by Robert H. Smith in association with
The National Military Park and Visitor Center
at Gettysburg to create a bronze sculpture
of Lincoln as he would have appeared in
Since all of the monuments in the National
Military Cemetery are largely inaccessible
to the public, it was decided that a seated
figure of Lincoln would allow the public
to have a more intimate experience with
Drawings, models and eventually a full scale
rendering yielded this great sculpture that
was warmly embraced by the crowd of several
hundred people on hand at the dedication.
A previous sculpture by StudioEIS of President
Lincoln and his horse was also dedicated
in this bicentennial year at President Lincoln’s
Cottage in Washington, DC.
There is no question that this sculpture
of Lincoln was unusually challenging because
it would be set in this most hallowed place
in America. So much has been published on
the subject of Lincoln, one might think
the sheer volume of material would have
made it an easy commission for StudioEIS.
It proved to be just the opposite.
In the 19th century, and well into the 20th
century, sculptors went to extraordinary
lengths to further their careers by producing
important Lincoln sculpture commissions.
No matter who they were, however, even the
best eventually exhausted the Lincoln storyline–a
direct function of the prevailing attitudes
towards Lincoln himself and issues of race.
After his death, Lincoln was depicted as
the Great Emancipator, but this
ended as a sculptural genre with Reconstruction’s
end in 1877, giving rise to the enduring
image of Lincoln as the Savior of the
Of the more than 600 sculptures devoted
to the American Presidency, more than a
third of them are of Abraham Lincoln - and
27 have been produced since the year 2000
– proving only that sculptors still
make a staunch effort to develop, what James
Percoco, Historian and High School teacher
calls, public memory, especially in the
case of Abraham Lincoln.
Patrick White, the Australian Nobel laureate,
said “Inspiration descends
only in flashes – to clothe circumstances.”
We're sure this can be said of the work
StudioEIS produces, and we wonder if
this wasn’t also the case in Lincoln’s
No recent leader with the possible exception
of the deeply flawed but hugely popular
war time Prime Minister Winston Churchill,
evokes a national pride equal to that of
Lincoln – and maybe the reference
to “war time” is key to the
This sculpture is meant to render Lincoln
in November of 1863 seen with the full burden
of war on his back – We’ll leave
it to you to decide if we even came close
in our attempt – and ask you to reflect
on the nature of memorialization in the
21st century-which, after 225 years of nationhood,
seems to demand imagery that becomes increasingly