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Photographs of Abe Lincoln show a melancholy face, and Lincoln was certainly known to be a melancholy man. But, he was also a man imbued with a great sense of the humorous. When reading some of his quips and stories, I often find myself laughing out loud. His wit was original and timeless. He was known to tell crude, earthy stories which show a very human side to a man of greatness.
Photography in Lincolns day required long exposure times, and models were asked to hold very still. Consequently, most models didn’t smile. In Lincoln’s last photographs, when the war was going well, he was captured in the infant stages of a smile.
“I wanted to paint Abe with a smile, as if he had just told me a good story or a clever observation.”