Abraham Lincoln Iconic Portrait After Hesler by Ayres, One of the Largest and Most Beautiful We Have Ever Seen!

The iconic photograph of a beardless Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), future 16th U.S. President, after the original taken on June 3, 1860 by Chicago photographer Alexander Hesler, who sold some of his original glass negatives to Philadelphia photographer George B. Ayres in 1867. Ayres sold prints from Hesler's original negatives between 1881 and his death in 1905. The black and white matte photo is adhered to a thick chipboard mount. Expected light surface wear including scattered scuffs, with tape remnants and isolated water stains on the mount verso. Possible retouching to the lower left corner. Else near fine and one of the most beautiful examples we have seen. 12.25" x 15.25."

Chicago photographer Alexander Hesler (1823-1895) was invited to photograph Lincoln on June 3, 1860 in Springfield, Illinois. Lincoln had been nominated as presidential candidate at the Republican National Convention held in Chicago two weeks earlier. This elegant portrait of Lincoln in near profile would become one of Lincoln's favorites, and when originally shown the proof, he said, "That looks better and expresses me better than any I have ever seen; if it pleases the people I am satisfied." Of the 36 extant photographs of Lincoln taken before assuming the presidency, ca. 1846/1847- February 1861, Hesler's portraits are some of the best known. Hesler's portraits were prized not only for accurately documenting Lincoln's dominant physical features, but also for capturing the spirit, or essence, of the aspiring politician.

This portrait is from Hesler's "Negative No. 1," which Ayres describes in a contemporary promotional pamphlet as representing "Mr. Lincoln's face almost in profile. The pose is most happily chosen as showing his peculiar facial characteristics--the full, high forehead and its wealth of hair, the shaggy eyebrows, 'the lone mole,' the hollow check and massive jaw, the lip awry, --and above all, the sculpturesque nose, beautifully defined against the background."

Upon Hesler's retirement, George B. Ayres took possession of his studio and plates, printing from the glass plate of Lincoln until the end of the century. Ayres proudly recounted how his purchase of Hesler's original Lincoln negatives in 1867 safeguarded them from almost certain destruction in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Sadly, the negatives could not escape accidental damage: they were broken in the mail in 1933.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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