The last portrait of Abraham Lincoln

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Monday 13 December 2010
Ron Brownson


This carte de visite portrait of Abraham Lincoln was made by Alexander Gardner in his Washington studio in February 1865.

Many people believe that this was the very last portrait photograph made of the President, taken a month before his assassination in April.

If you have never seen Ken Burn's 1990 documentary series The Civil War, please look for it at your local library. It remains the most effective production of the Public Broadcasting System. The nine episodes contain 16,000 archival photographs, of which this carte de visite is one.

The series has many on-screen comments presented by Shelby Foote, one of my favourite historians and novelists. Perhaps one of the most perceptive historians of America, Dr Foote can be listened to in an exceptional documentary portrait:

Alexander Gardner Abraham Lincoln 1865
Private collection, United States of America