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New Lincoln Family Sculpture in Springfield
Photo Courtesy of Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition

Lincoln Family Sculpture Unveiled in Springfield

The following is a press release from the Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition in Springfield, Illinois:

June 5, 2004 – Springfield Mayor Timothy J. Davlin today unveiled a Lincoln commemorative statue in downtown Springfield. “Springfield’s Lincoln” is a life-size sculpture of Lincoln, his wife and two of his sons. It will stand next to Lincoln’s law office across from the Old State Capitol. This sculpture is the first phase of an outdoor interpretive program called “Here I have Lived.”

“We are truly on the threshold of a new era in Springfield,” Mayor Timothy J. Davlin said. “With the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum to open soon, this sculpture will be the closest thing yet to bringing our 16th President back to life. Visitors and residents won’t have to imagine what it was like when Lincoln walked downtown, they will now be able to capture the very feeling that townsfolk in the 19th century experienced when they traversed the same pathways.”

The intent of the artist Larry Anderson is to create a single moment in Lincoln’s life that symbolizes the effects that Springfield had on the future president. “He couldn’t have gone from a log cabin to the White House without the polishing effects of a career in Springfield, Anderson said. “There he met Mary, became a father, a successful lawyer, then politically active.”

The sculpture is set on October 4, l854, as Lincoln is walking toward the Old State Capitol to give a version of a speech which was later known as the Peoria speech. This was the time that Lincoln was rejuvenating his political career and beginning to speak out against the spread of slavery. The piece includes Mary who is seen adjusting Lincoln’s lapel, a gesture that symbolizes her influence on his social role and her interest in his political life. Willie is by her side waving to Robert who is some distance away. This too is symbolic as Robert was always somewhat estranged from his family.

Anderson is known to have a passion for detail. It was his intention is to create something very realistic, detailed and historically accurate. His research on Lincoln and the period was comprehensive. For example, as was Lincoln’s habit, the intended speech is seen tucked into his hatband and the handwriting is as close as possible to Lincoln’s. As he worked, Anderson relied on photographs of Lincoln taken from 1858-1860. The challenges were greater in recreating Mary and the children, but the results are incredibly detailed and as accurate as is possible.

Larry Anderson has completed 65 bronze sculptures nationwide. His original training was in painting and he holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from Cranbrook Academy of Art. He subsequently changed direction and has been working in bronze for the last three decades. Anderson does not use a direct casting method for his work. Unlike many artists who achieve photo-realism in their pieces by using actual plaster casts of models, then pouring wax into the plaster molds and reassembling, Anderson actually sculpts each piece from the beginning, using live models only as a reference. Anderson said, "By using this method,  I hope to get a little closer to the subject, and, in the words of my good friend and sculptor Tom Jay, 'capture the ghost' " 

“Lincoln’s Springfield” was funded primarily through a Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity tourism grant. The required match was supplied in part by a transportation enhancement grant.

The second phase of “Here I have Lived” will include 33 exhibits designed to provide visitors with a glimpse of Springfield as Lincoln would have known it, and will show how he was affected by the people, places and events that he encountered in his hometown. Two of the exhibits will be placed nearby the statue and will articulate the theme for the whole program. The City anticipates that the exhibits will be installed by late summer.

“Here I have Lived” is a demonstration project for the Looking for Lincoln Heritage program. Funds for detailed exhibit plans were supplied by a federal transportation enhancement grant. The grant provides that the exhibit plans will be available for a minimal fee to any community that would like establish a similar program. Peckham Guyton Albers and Viets (PGAV) is a St. Louis firm that specializes in master planning, urban planning, architecture and design. PGAV suggested Anderson as part of their work on this project. The firm is also responsible for the creation of an interpretive plan and the design of the exhibits.

For more information see the Looking for Lincoln Heritage Coalition website.

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