Thursday, July 25, 2013

Steel Pen Drawing of Abraham Lincoln for Quilters

Lincoln Mourning Fan
President Abraham Lincoln's assassination right after Civil War peace threw the Union into deepest mourning in spring, 1865.

See more of that spectacular fan here:

Lincoln's elaborate funeral cortege crossed the country from Washington City to his home in Springfield, Illinois. Here in Chicago 36 women dressed in white with black ribbons represent the states as they march under a mourning arch.
The Lincoln home in Springfield hung with black crepe.

Mourning envelope

Many homes framed a Lincoln memorial lithograph for the parlor.

And many of those lithographs linked the martyred President to 
the Emancipation Proclamation.
In looking for images of Lincoln for my Moda Civil War Jubilee collection I came across this style of mourning picture, which rang a bell in my memory.

These portraits were done in steel-pen calligraphic script.

The words of the document are written in calligraphy and shaded to form what
was called an Allegorical Portrait, 
 also called a calligraphic portrait or a steel-pen portrait.

There are two sources for these published calligraphic Lincoln portraits. The most common were drawn by William H. Pratt and lithographed by A. Hageboeck in Iowa. Others are attributed to E. C. Smith. Some say the Pratt portraits are from 1865; others say 1867.

Pratt also did an Allegorical Portrait of Washington
using the words of the Declaration of Independence.

Several of the lithographs here are from the Library of Congress collection.

An early 20th-century version
shows three martyred Presidents
at the top, Garfield, Lincoln & McKinley.

Some calligraphic portraits attributed to Pratt do not show his skillful drawing.
This one may have been hand drawn.

During the 1970s I interviewed a woman more than 100 years old about a quilt she'd made when she was young. I remember her farm house with no electricity or plumbing. I can still picture Bertha sitting on her couch under a similar portrait on the parlor wall. After I explained to her that I worked at the University she gestured towards the Lincoln portrait and told me her brother had drawn that picture when he went to college there, perhaps in the 1880s. Her question for me:

"Do they still teach that kind of drawing at the University?"

Taken aback, I decided not to tell her about abstract expressionism or pop art and just said I didn't think they taught it anymore. She thought that was a shame.

I think that was the closest I ever came to the 19th century.

Calligrapic portrait atop Lincoln's Legacy print
 (#8256) from
Civil War Jubilee

I thought a portrait might make a great center for a small medallion celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation so I took the largest picture I could find and turned it into a printable image for pre-treated cotton and ink-jet printers.

Click on the picture below and save it to a Word file or as a JPG. Print it out 8-1/2 x 11". It's a little fuzzy so you might want to print it smaller. The banner says "Emancipation Proclamations" (plural) because the print  referred to both the September, 1862 and January, 1863 versions.

Find printable fabrics at Electric Quilt by clicking here:


  1. That is a wonderful piece to add to a quilt.


  2. Too cool.....am so excited. Have received my Civil War Jubilee yardage....just need time to start! Oh what a great gift! Thanks!

  3. While not the same, I have an original newspaper of the Kennedy assissination and his young son, now also gone, saluting the casket. I have so much admiration for Abraham Lincoln and for your history. It would be wonderful for all prejudice to be gone.

  4. So fun....as I was reading your post, I was thinking this would make a great piece of clip art to print out on fabric....ha! Great minds think a like....maybe kindred spirits. :) Thanks for sharing with us. I have it saved in both formats!

  5. Such interesting pictures! I showed them to my granddaughter--I've never seen them before. Thanks for your very interesting posts--I always enjoy them! The closest I have ever come to the 19th century was my dad's mother, born in 1874. Wish I had asked a lot more questions!

  6. Fascinating! In all my Lincoln research, I hadn't seen this before.
    Thanks for such an interesting post.

  7. I have a wonderful book used in art colleges, teaching drawing in the 19th century. The Art of Ornament and it uses examples from the V&A and Paris museums and other sources. It is wonderful.