- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 17, 2008

After beginning the sculpture of Abraham Lincoln and his horse, artist Ivan Schwartz of New York-based StudioEIS quickly realized our 16th president wasn’t as humble as he is traditionally portrayed. “Lincoln posed for the camera 66 times between 1848 and 1865,” the artist says. “What it told me was that Lincoln wasn’t modest. He was an ambitious politician.”

That confidence will emerge in the slightly smiling, bronze figure of the president created by Mr. Schwartz and his team for the lawn in front of the restored Lincoln Cottage, which opened to the public in February.

Evident in the sculpture, too, will be the speciality of StudioEIS: lifelike sculptures of historical figures based on a combination of painstaking research and interpretative artistry. This talent has led the studio to create statues of our Founding Fathers at Mount Vernon, Monticello and Montpelier, and re-create Jamestown settlers for a 2009 exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

For each naturalistic sculpture, the studio applies the skills of a forensic scientist. Painted and sculpted portraiture, old photos, clothing and even skulls related to each subject are analyzed to determine the physique and facial features of the famous person.

For the statue of Lincoln, Mr. Schwartz and his team examined all the photos taken of the president and the life casts of his face and hands from 1860. Lincoln’s surviving coat and top hat, now in the collection of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, were measured to accurately reflect the president’s daily garb. “He was 6 feet 4 inches, and wore a size 14 shoe,” notes the artist.

The saddled horse next to the sculpted Lincoln also took intensive research. The artists studied 19th-century equestrian statues in New York City and a photo of Old Bob, Lincoln’s favorite horse. In consultation with equine experts, they chose an American Standardbred as the model for the sculpture.

Now being cast in bronze, the entire piece will be installed in mid-November on the lawn in front of the cottage and officially dedicated on Lincoln’s 200th birthday in February.

- Deborah K. Dietsch

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