A plaster life mask taken of Lincoln’s face by
Leonard Volk in Chicago in 1860.

On the back of this casting is a small label identifying it’s origin as the Volk family estate, Hewnoaks in Lovell, Maine. In 1904 Leonard Volk’s son Stephen Arnold Douglas Volk who was by this time a highly respected artist in his own right, purchased a farm and land on Kezar Lake in western Maine. Converted to provide a studio and space for friends of Douglas and his wife Marion, the place was named Hewnoaks. It held numerous important family things to include relics from Leonard Volk’s old Chicago studio. The estate was utilized by the family as a retreat for artist friends and craftspeople. The Maine Historical Society in Portland counts as part of their collection, a chair from Hewnoaks said to have been used by Lincoln when Stephen Volk took his casting. The Volk family held the Lovell, Maine property for 100 years before Hewnoaks was given to the University of Maine and its content put up for public auction.

Upon his Chicago visit in the spring of 1860 Lincoln was asked by sculptor Leonard Volk if he would come to his studio for the purpose of doing a bust portrait. Lincoln agreed but we will never know if he realized what was in store as the artist decided to take a life mask casting as a lasting reference for his work. The established procedure for the task was followed. It has been said that Lincoln well tolerated the process of letting wet plaster dry on his face and the arduous task of removing the set plaster in one piece but afterward commented that the experience was anything but agreeable. Upon viewing the final casting from Volk’s pattern Lincoln advised that it looked like the animal himself.