Face of Lincoln Sculpture Added to Allen County Public Library Collection

The Allen County Public Library located in Fort Wayne, IN, and the home of the Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection recently acquired The Face of Lincoln sculpture produced by the North Carolina Gallery of Fine Art (NCGFA) based in Wilmington, NC.  This American masterpiece by Robert Merrell Gage (1892-1981) now resides in four museums throughout the United States and many private collections. 

“The Allen County Public Library is honored and excited to add The Face of Lincoln to our collection.  ACPL serves as host and curator of thousands of items from the Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection, including photographs and documents belonging or related to President Abraham Lincoln and his family, observes Curt Witcher, Director of Special Collections, Allen County Public Library. “The Face of Lincoln brings a new and important perspective for those seeking to better understand how Lincoln carried the burdens of governing a nation at war with itself. The great American sculptor Merrell Gage’s interpretation of the Volk 1860 plaster face cast shows that gravity was already etched into the lines of Lincoln’s face, a precursor of the burdens he would carry as President. We are confident that the Face of Lincoln will become a must-see for everyone from visiting Lincoln scholars to area school students.”

The Lincoln Financial Collection is one of the largest private collections of Abraham Lincoln-related material in existence and was donated to the people of Indiana. Today the Collection is housed in two institutions, the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis and the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne.  According to Art Conservator John Short of the North Carolina Gallery of Fine Art, it further reinforces how meaningful the Face of Lincoln has become.

“The 1956 Merrell Gage interpretation of Lincoln’s 1860 face casting is incredibly special for two reasons. It is the exact representation of Lincoln’s features and bone structure and it depicts his poignant demeanor so noted by the poet Walt Whitman. Having lived with it for over 30 years, I feel as though I know him as a friend,” said Short. 

The Allen County Public Library is now creating a new public space for its collection.  This multi-million-dollar renovation is in process and will create over 2,500 square feet of gallery space.  Upon completion, it will be known as the Rolland Center for Lincoln Research.  The expected grand opening will be late spring 2021.  Mr. John Clell Hamm and Mr. John Rutledge Short of the NC Gallery of Fine Art have been invited to speak and attend this exciting event where their sculpture will be unveiled.  The Academy Award-winning movie “The Face of Lincoln” starring California Artist, Merrell Gage will also be shown.


Washburn University’s Mulvane Art Museum acquires “The Face of Lincoln” mask

Published on Washburn Online Newsroom ( on 2/12/19 3:03 pm CST

On what would have been Abraham Lincoln’s 210th birthday, Washburn University’s Mulvane Art Museum is excited to announce it has acquired a bronze face mask of Abraham Lincoln. The mask was originally created in terra-cotta by renowned American artist and former Washburn University (then Washburn College) instructor Robert Merrell Gage. The opportunity emerged through the North Carolina Gallery of Fine Art, who purchased the original terra-cotta in 1993 and cast the bronze in 2018.

The bronze sculpture, “The Face of Lincoln,” will be unveiled at 3 pm. on Thursday, Feb. 21, in the Bradbury Thompson Alumni Center in conjunction with Washburn’s annual Harman Lincoln Lecture.

With Washburn University’s start as Lincoln College and Robert Merrell Gage’s representation in the Mulvane collection, the acquisition of the bronze mask of Abraham Lincoln by Gage presents a unique opportunity,” said Connie Gibbons, director, Mulvane Art Museum. “It will remain forever as an important part of our permanent collection and as a tribute to the history and values of Washburn University.”

Gage was born in Topeka, Kansas. He studied at Washburn College under Frances Davis Whittemore, who encouraged him to become a sculptor. In 1911, he traveled to New York where he studied at the Art Students League and the Robert Henri School of Art. Upon completing his studies in 1914, Gage became an assistant to the sculptor Gutzon Borglum, best known for sculpting the monumental visages of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Teddy Roosevelt at Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota. Gage taught art at the then Washburn College from 1915-17. In 1918, a bronze statue of Abraham Lincoln, his first significant commission, was installed at the southeast corner of the grounds of the state capitol in Topeka and still sits there today. In 1955, Gage’s film, “The Face of Lincoln,” won an Academy Award in the two-reel short subject category.

This cast of “The Face of Lincoln” was made possible by donors to the Mulvane Art Museum.

When the opportunity to acquire this artwork developed, friends and generous donors to the Mulvane moved quickly to make it happen,” said Marshall Meek, president, Washburn University Alumni Association and Foundation. “We are thankful for their thoughtful dedication to honoring the history of Gage’s work.”