Sarah Fisher Ames (American, 1817-1901); Bust of Abraham Lincoln, ca. 1864-66; marble. Gift of Mrs. Asa H. Morton. (16.1) x1200

Lincoln to the Nth Degree

March 28, 2009 - June 28, 2009

Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA) presents Lincoln to the Nth Degree, an exhibition in honor of the two-hundredth anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth. Featuring 45 works of various media, this exhibition examines the extent to which Lincoln encouraged the construction and dissemination of his image throughout his political career. Drawn from the museum’s collection, as well as the Williams College Archives and the Chapin Library of Rare Books and Manuscripts, the anthology of images and texts recounts the Lincoln myth as it was during his lifetime and after his death.

Lincoln to the Nth Degree retraces Lincoln’s political career as it appeared in the modern media from his political campaigns in 1858-60, to the Presidential iconography of his five years in office, and finally, to his assassination in 1865. The Lincoln-Douglas debates and the major acts of the Civil War, including the Emancipation Proclamation and Gettysburg Address of 1863, are highlighted as essential to the construction of the legacy that Lincoln left following his death. The juxtaposition of these iconographic documents—on loan from the Chapin Library—with a number of public tributes that surfaced after Lincoln’s assassination, explores the iconic status that Lincoln had assumed even during his lifetime.

“In these often humble objects, we can see still sense the intense emotions about Lincoln that were projected through the mass media of his day,” explains exhibition curator Nancy Mowll Mathews. “This was true during his meteoric political career and even more so after his assassination, an international tragedy that reverberated for decades to come.”

This exhibition has been organized by Nancy Mowll Mathews, Eugénie Prendergast Senior Curator of Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Art and Lecturer in Art, with Robert Volz, Custodian of the Chapin Library.

Related Events
Gallery Talk: “Lincoln to the Nth Degree”
Wednesday, April 8
4:00 pm
Exhibition curator Nancy Mowll Mathews