WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - As Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, celebrates what would be his 209th birthday Tuesday, a new bronze face mask created by a renowned sculpture has been unveiled in the Port City.
The mask on display at the NC Gallery of Fine Art, was sculpted in 1956 by Robert Merrell Gage. The sculpture remained in California as a part of the artist’s private collection in its original un-cast state. Then, art conservator and collector John Short spotted it in the 1990s.
“In 1993 I was at an auction and this particular terracotta, with this very poignant face of Lincoln came up, and of course it spoke to me in my heart because I had developed an affinity for Lincoln’s sadness and sorrows that he went through when he had to hold our union together,” Short explained.
Short kept the mask in his private collection until joining forces with business partner John Clell Hamm, where they decided to cast the mask in bronze.
“This is unlike any other statues of Lincoln out there," Short said. “They are more presidential in the sense where he is looking straight forward and he has a very serious look.”
“It is a significant statement for the people of America, the sculpture shares an American story,” Hamm said.
Gage is renowned for his sculptures of the President. In addition to his seated Lincoln sculpture, which sits on the grounds of the Kansas State Capitol, he also has sculptures in Los Angeles and around the United States.
A film entitled The Face of Lincoln featured Gage as he modeled Lincoln’s bust while narrating the story of the president’s life. The film won an Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film in 1956. I
NCGFA plans to cast up to 1,865 of the sculptures for museums, collectors, historians and Lincoln enthusiasts. The price for the bronze mask is $8,500.
The sculpture is currently on display in the office of John Clell Hamm in Wilmington, NC also the headquarters of the NCGFA.