Madison - St. Clair Record

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Famous Lincoln portrait to be unveiled at Madison County courthouse

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | May 16, 2018

A high-quality reproduction of a famous Abraham Lincoln will be unveiled at the Madison County Circuit Court on May 21 at 11 a.m.

The ceremony will take place in the first-floor lobby of the courthouse and is open to the public. 

The courthouse will also feature an array of Lincoln memorabilia and artifacts in display cases on the first floor from May 17-24 in an effort to highlight and inform the public about Lincoln and his legal career. 

The photograph was taken in Springfield by the well-known photographer Alexander Hesler on June 3, 1860. It was taken for Lincoln’s presidential campaign. 

Historians consider Hesler’s portrait one of the best taken of Lincoln during his pre-presidential years, a press release from the Illinois State Bar Association states.

The portrait is printed on canvas and bears an image of the beardless Lincoln. It is in a stained wood frame and measures 30 inches wide by 40 inches tall. 

“We are honored to place this historic portrait of Lincoln in the same site he once visited while campaigning for the U.S. Senate,” Chief Judge David Hylla stated in a press release. “Hesler’s photograph captures Lincoln on the cusp of his transition from trial lawyer to presidential candidate.”

The portrait will be permanently installed at the courthouse thanks to donations from the Illinois Judges Association, the Illinois State Bar Association and their respective foundations – the Illinois Judges Foundation and the Illinois Bar Foundation.

These organizations are partnering with the Illinois State Historical Society, which owns the glass-plate positives of Hesler’s photograph. 

The Illinois State Historical Society is leading a statewide campaign to place a framed copy in a courthouse in each of Illinois’ 102 counties in commemoration of the state’s bicentennial this year. 

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Madison County Circuit Court