Seated Lincoln

In contrast to the earlier, Standing Lincoln, this second monument by Augustus Saint-Gaudens shows Lincoln seated in the chair of state, looking even more remote, dwelling on the concerns of his office and elevated on a much higher and less approachable plinth. Both artworks, however, were framed by a large semi-circular stone bench that formed the limits of a broad platform
Photo ©: Jyoti Srivastava


Seated Lincoln


1908, installed 1926


Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907) and Stanford White


Grant Park


Many regard the “Standing” Lincoln in Lincoln Park as one of the great masterpieces of public art, created as a collaboration between celebrated sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens and his architect Stanford White. But in the sculptor’s own opinion, his best was the version of Lincoln seated in a chair which was completed twenty years later. Saint-Gaudens was driven to improve on his earlier work, and took many years to complete the new work. Ironically Saint-Gaudens and White had both died by the time of the final installation at Grant Park in 1926. In “Head of State”, Saint-Gaudens sought to portray Lincoln at the end of his life – in a state of isolation and refection at the end of the Civil War – and unknowingly approaching the end of his life. Stanford White’s base for the sculpture is of grey granite, and the background is a sweeping classical exedra in white marble. Similar to the earlier Lincoln Park sculpture, the exedra was a communal seating area for visitors to share the spirit of reflection on Lincoln and the complex circumstances and ironies of his life.