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Abraham Lincoln Bust by Larry Nikolai


Used by permission © 1996 Photo by Larry Nikolai

Some people "live" with Mr. Lincoln more than others -- writers, professors, collectors, dealers, preservationists, artists. Sculptor Larry Nikolai is one of them. When he shared the story of creating this wonderfully expressive sculpture, we knew you would want to hear about it, too.

You can see this bust on a life-size animated figure of Lincoln at the National Civil War Wax Museum in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Larry sculpted it in 1984, and the figure was built and animated by Advanced Animations Inc., of Vermont.

For reference and measurements, Larry used a copy of Leonard Volk's famous life mask of Lincoln, cast in plaster in 1860, a process Lincoln found most disagreeable. He did the sculpture originally without hair or beard.

Then, a set of articulated eyes was built right into the clay to assure that the blink mechanism would work properly. Another unusual feature is Lincoln's partially opened mouth. Larry did this so the final skin would have a minimum of wear and tear over a long period of time.

The teeth are a casting of the sculptor's own; Larry reports they were all that were available at the time. In 1987 he added the hair and a set of sculpted eyes. The photo you see here is a casting of the final piece. Thanks, Larry, for allowing it to appear on Abraham Lincoln Online.

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