MIDDLETON, After Elijah Chapman (1818-1883)
Portrait of Abraham Lincoln
New York: American Defense Society, Inc., [circa 1915]. Original steel-faced copper printing plate, after Middleton, indistinctly signed in the image. Plate Size: 14 1/16 x 10 5/8 inches; image: 12 1/8 x 8 7/8 inches.
A very rare original printing plate: a portrait of Abraham Lincoln.
A large quarter-length portrait of Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), with his facsimile signature, and the imprint "Copyright" and "Distributed by the American Defense Society, Inc. / New York, N.Y." beneath the image (all in reverse). The President is shown gazing steadfastly at the viewer, his mind set firmly on the course he must follow. The imprint dates the plate to sometime after 1915, when the American Defense Society, Inc. was founded.
The American Defense Society, Inc. was founded in 1915 in New York City, in response to the sinking of the Lusitania, as a national "aggressive, non-partisan society having for its sole aim the 'adequate national defense of the United States of America'" ( The American Defense Society: History, Purpose and Accomplishments , 1918). Theodore Roosevelt was Honorary President, and the society's board members included prominent local businessmen and professionals.
The plate appears to be an almost same-size version of a chromolithogaphed portrait by Middleton, published in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1864. This chromolithograph was the only print portrait for which Lincoln provided direct advice to the artist: Lincoln suggested he consult a photograph (probably the Mathew Brady studio portrait of February 9, 1864). The original chromolithograph is oval but otherwise the two images are remarkably similar.
Cf. Hozer, Boritt and Neely, The Lincoln Image , pp. 138 and 141.