Abraham Lincoln (Healy)

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Abraham Lincoln
George P.A. Healy - Abraham Lincoln - Google Art Project.jpg
ArtistGeorge Peter Alexander Healy
MediumOil on canvas
Dimensions187.3 cm × 141.3 cm (73.7 in × 55.6 in)
LocationState Dining Room, White House, Washington, D.C.

Abraham Lincoln is an 1869 oil-on-canvas painting by George Peter Alexander Healy of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States.

In the painting, Lincoln is observed alone, leaning forward, with his elbow on his knee and his head resting on his hand.[1] The pose is taken from Healy's 1868 painting, The Peacemakers, which depicts the historic March 28, 1865, strategy session by the Union high command, composed of William Tecumseh Sherman, Ulysses S. Grant, David Dixon Porter, and Lincoln, aboard the steamboat the River Queen during the final days of the American Civil War.[2]


Lincoln sat for Healy in August 1864, and Healy began working on his sketches to create a portrait of Lincoln.[3] After Lincoln's assassination in April 1865, Healy conceived of The Peacemakers, which he completed in 1868. In 1869, Healy decided to create a new portrait removing the members of Lincoln's high command to focus only on Lincoln. He painted the portrait in Paris.[3]

In March 3, 1869, an act of Congress that authorized the commission of a portrait of Lincoln to hang in the White House.[3] As a result, Healy sent it to Washington, hoping it would be chosen. However, Ulysses S. Grant, then the President of the United States selected a portrait painted by William F. Cogswell. Robert Todd Lincoln, Lincoln's son, purchased Healy's portrait. He said of Healy's portrait: "I have never seen a portrait of my father which is to be compared with it in any way."[3] The portrait was owned by Robert Todd Lincoln's widow, Mary Harlan Lincoln, who bequeathed it to her daughter, Mamie Lincoln Isham, with the understanding that it would be given to the White House when Mamie Lincoln died. It entered the White House collection after the 1938 death of Mamie Lincoln Isham.[4][3][5] It hangs in the State Dining Room of the White House.[1]

First Lady Lady Bird Johnson identified the painting as one of her favorites in the White House.[6] Though Richard Nixon had moved the portrait from the State Dining Room, replacing it with Palisades on the Hudson, Gerald Ford had the portrait moved back to its longstanding placement.[7]

A reproduction of the portrait hangs in the Illinois Executive Mansion in Springfield, Illinois and the Minnesota House of Representatives chamber behind the speaker's chair.


  1. ^ a b "Nixon Gives Lincoln Portrait to Staffers". The Rock Hill Herald. December 17, 1971. Retrieved January 25, 2012.
  2. ^ Kloss, William; Bolger, Koreen (1992) [1992]. Art in the White House: a nation's pride. White House Historical Association in cooperation with the National Geographic Society. p. 156. ISBN 978-0-8109-3965-3.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Abraham Lincoln". White House Historical Association. Archived from the original on June 26, 2010. Retrieved January 25, 2012.
  4. ^ "MRS. ISHAM DIES; WAS LINCOLN'S KIN: Granddaughter of President a Daughter of Robert Todd Lincoln, Ex-War Secretary OWNED FAMOUS PORTRAIT Emancipator's Likeness Now to Hang in White House if a Position Suitable Is Found". New York Times. 22 November 1938. ProQuest 102507100.
  5. ^ "Celebration! 200 years at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue". Observer-Reporter. July 12, 1992. Retrieved January 25, 2012.
  6. ^ Cuno, John Marshall (March 3, 1965). "Art and the First Lady". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved January 27, 2012. (subscription required)
  7. ^ "'Lincoln Portrait' Back In Its Place". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. United Press International. September 12, 1974. Retrieved January 27, 2012.