Plaster, c. 1917 cast after 1865 original
“The tired spot”
It is impossible to look at this cast of Lincoln’s face—gaunt and careworn—and not think that it is a death mask. In fact, it was taken from life on February 11, 1865, by sculptor Clark Mills. Life masks were very popular in the nineteenth century because they created a near-duplicate of the sitter’s features.
The plaster image complements the photographs taken of Lincoln by Alexander Gardner the same month. A friend of Lincoln’s commented on the mask—and thus on the original—that it has “a look as of one on whom sorrow and care had done their worst.”
Listen to historian David Ward discuss this image