The Malpass Library at Western Illinois University is displaying 20 photos from the collection “Lincoln in Illinois” through June 28th.
Chicago photographer Ron Schramm took nearly 100 pictures of Lincoln statues around the state for the collection. There is also a book with the photos that is available at the library.
Library Archivist Jeff Hancks says the library chose photos of statues in this region and in Springfield.
They tell a lot about the sculptors and public perceptions of the 16th president.
He says, “The best example, of course, is how many of the sculptures here depict Lincoln wearing a beard. You know, it was not until 1860 that he had a beard. So many sculptures that represent his early life-there's no way. He didn't have facial hair at that time.”
Hancks says sculptors also took some liberties with Lincoln's image because he was notoriously difficult to sculpt. He would not sit still during sessions.
Hancks also notes many sculptures show Lincoln sitting or on horseback; few show him standing. Lincoln's long, lean frame makes if difficult to properly balance a sculpture of him standing.
Hancks says one particular photo demonstrates the popularity of the “Great Emancipator” extends across oceans.
A bust of Lincoln in Geneseo is a copy of one in Oslo, Norway that had great significance during the dark days of World War II.
He says, “A statue that the Norwegian people rallied around during the Nazi occupation in the 40s. So I thought it was very interesting that they decided to wish for their freedom that they would rally around a statue of an American president.”