The Old Print Shop

Abraham Lincoln. [Copper printing plate.]

  • ARTIST: William Marshall

  • MEDIUM: Engraved copper plate,

    DATE: 1866.

  • EDITION SIZE: Plate size 25 7/8 x 20" (65.8 x 50.8 cm).

  • DESCRIPTION: William Edgar Marshall was born in New York City in 1837. His family moved to Washington, DC, and as a teenager, he earned a living as an engraver of pocket watch cases. In 1856 he was encouraged by his mentor Cyrus Durand to work for the United States Treasury Department where he learned how to engrave portraits. At the age of 21, he went to work for the American Bank Note Company and became one of their best engravers. A few years later he left for Paris to train as a painter returning to the United States after a portrait of George Washington after a painting by Gilbert Stuart. This likeness was described by Edward Everett as "perfection of . . .execution." Washington's portrait firmly established Marshall's reputation as a portrait engraver. <BR><BR> After Abraham Lincoln's assassination, a distraught Marshall painted a portrait of the martyr-President. It drew great acclaim as the finest portrait of the martyred president. The Boston firm of Ticknor & Fields announced an agreement to have Marshall engrave his painting into copper and in 1866 this engraving was published. Like the painting, the engraving of Abraham Lincoln won wide acclaim. The president's son, Robert Todd Lincoln, called it an "insightful and skillful rendering," and the French artist, Gustave Dore, declared it "the best engraving ever made by any artist living or dead." In the end, the print was a huge success for Marshall and is today considered by many to be one of the best-engraved likenesses of Lincoln.


  • CONDITION: Good condition. The plate was at one time steel faced and it was removed.

  • REFERENCE: The Lincoln Image Abraham Lincoln and the Popular Print by Holzer, Boritt and Neeley pp. 212-213,