Mr. Lincoln Sits for His Portrait: The Story of a Photograph That Became an American Icon (Hardcover)
Mr. Lincoln Sits for His Portrait is a unique middle-grade depiction of America’s sixteenth president, through the story of one famous photograph, written by award-winning author Leonard S. Marcus.
On February 9, 1864, Abraham Lincoln made the mile-long walk from the Executive Mansion to photographer Mathew Brady's Washington, DC, studio, to be joined there later by his ten-year-old son, Tad. With a fractious re-election campaign looming that year, America's first media-savvy president was intent on securing another portrait that cast him in a favorable light, as he prepared to make the case for himself to a nation weary of war.
At least four iconic pictures were made that day. One was Lincoln in profile, the image that later found its way onto the penny; two more would be adapted for the 1928 and 2008 five-dollar bills. The fourth was a dual portrait of Lincoln and Tad. The pose, featuring Lincoln reading to his son, was a last-minute improvisation, but the image that came of it was—and remains—incomparably tender and enduringly powerful.
Immediately after the president’s murder the following year, the picture of Lincoln reading to his son became a mass-produced icon—a cherished portrait of a nation’s fallen leader, a disarmingly intimate record of a care-worn father's feeling for his child, and a timeless comment on books as a binding force between generations.
About the Author
Leonard S. Marcus is one of the world’s leading writers about children’s books and the people who create them. His own award-winning books include Randolph Caldecott: The Man Who Could Not Stop Drawing; Listening for Madeleine: A Portrait of Madeleine L'Engle in Many Voices; Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom; Minders of Make Believe; and The Annotated Phantom Tollbooth. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Kirkus Reviews 40 Most Anticipated Books of the Year
A Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection
“Marcus has given young readers an Abraham Lincoln for the 21st century, someone both relevant and resonant. Using cutting-edge technology to present himself to the world, our 16th president consciously manipulated his public persona by curating and sharing just the right images. Middle graders are sure to nod in recognition.” —The New York Times Book Review
“A provocative study of Abraham Lincoln as a masterly media manipulator . . . Marcus presents Lincoln as an early adopter of new technology, being one of the first public figures to understand the power of photography . . . A fresh angle offering yet another reason to regard Lincoln as our presidential G.O.A.T.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“[A] fascinating, anecdote-rich profile of the sixteenth president . . . Marcus’ latest is exceedingly well written and unfailingly interesting, bringing Lincoln into vivid focus. The book will be useful in the classroom, of course, but is even better for independent reading.” —Booklist, starred review
“This trim, information-packed volume examines Abraham Lincoln, from pre-presidential days to his assassination, as a skillful image-builder who sought to ‘let photographic portrayals represent him as a man of strength, conviction, humility, and compassion’ . . . Written in an accessible tone, peppered with warm anecdotes, and brimming with historical images enhanced by explicatory captions, this is an intriguing, well-researched look at 19th-century politics and presentation as exemplified by Lincoln. Numerous enriching timelines and sidebars appear throughout.” —Publishers Weekly
“Mr. Lincoln Sits for His Portrait is a wonderful way to get to know our sixteenth president. Leonard Marcus brings deep historical knowledge to the story of Lincoln's rise in the world, and he pays close attention to the way photography helped to facilitate that rise. The happy result is a combination of imagery and writing that presents a most compelling portrait of our greatest president.” —Ted Widmer, author of Lincoln on the Verge: Thirteen Days to Washington
“I couldn’t stop reading this book. Mr. Lincoln Sits for His Portrait offers a unique view of Lincoln told through a different lens—literally. Marcus’ grasp of history and his ability to make it come alive and give it context are breathtaking. Lincoln the inventor—his embrace of the new technologies of the telegraph and photography—added a new depth to my understanding and appreciation for the sixteenth president and the times in which he lived.” —Judith Rovenger, Educator and past Director of Children's and Youth Services, Westchester Library System, New York