previous next


Impracticable as my scheme had at first seemed, the way was thus opened for its execution. When fairly committed to the purpose, however, the want of means and the magnitude of the undertaking almost disheartened me. My original plan embraced a canvas sufficiently large for a life-size group of the President and entire Cabinet; to paint such a picture would consume many months, perhaps years. Enthusiasm alone would never accomplish the work. The few friends to whom I should have felt at liberty to apply for help were not wealthy. Who outside of these could be persuaded that a work of the character and proportions contemplated, undertaken by an artist of no experience in historical studies, would not end in utter failure?

I had left my home at the usual hour one morning, pondering the difficulty which, like Bunyan's lions, seemed now to block the way. As one alternative after another presented itself to my mind and was rejected, the prospect appeared less and less hopeful. I at length found myself in Broadway at [16] the foot of the stairs leading up to my studio. A gentleman at this moment attracted my attention, standing with his back towards me, looking at some pictures exposed in the window of the shop below. Detecting, as I thought, something familiar in his air and manner, I waited until he turned his face, and then found I was not mistaken; it was an old acquaintance who five years before lived near me in Brooklyn, engaged in a similar struggle for a livelihood with myself, though his profession was law instead of art.

We had both changed our residences and had not met for years. After a cordial greeting, he accepted my invitation to ascend to the studio. I had heard that he had been successful in some business ventures, but the matter made but little impression upon me, and had been forgotten. Suddenly there seemed to come into my mind the words: “This man has been sent to you.” Full of the singular impression, I laid before him my conception. He heard me through, and then asked if I was sure of President Lincoln's consent and cooperation. I informed him of the pledge which had been given me. “Then,” said he, “you shall paint the picture. Take plenty of time,--make it the great work of your life,--and draw upon me for whatever funds you will require to the end.” 1

1 To Mr. Samuel Sinclair, of the New York Tribune, for the introduction to Mr. Lincoln, and to Frederick A. Lane, Esq., of New York, for the generous aid thus extended, I shall ever be indebted for the accomplishment of my work.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Brooklyn (New York, United States) (1)
Broadway (Virginia, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Abraham Lincoln (2)
Samuel Sinclair (1)
Frederick A. Lane (1)
Bunyan (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: