lincoln portrait Young Lincoln portrait

An Analytical Biography of a Great Mind- by Edward J. Kempf

Borgulums interpretation of lincolns face

Gutzon Borglum, sculptor of the great marble head of Lincoln in the Capitol rotunda at Washington, made extensive comparative measurements of the photographs and masks of Lincoln, and studies of his notes, letters, speeches and life history before attempting the

In an essay on Lincoln, Borglum gave interpretations of the relative meanings of the right and left sides of his face as indicated by its lines and measurements. He saw the greater strength of functioning of the right side relative to the left. The lines around the right eye and its direct convergence showed that it was more active, that is, dominant, and that he naturally thought
and planned with the visualized imagery of this eye. He was "naturally a merry soul changed by sadness." The lines around Lincoln's mouth and its displacement towards the right indicated that "he smiled very, very often when his nature took no part in it."

Borglum noticed that the tip of the nose was also turned toward the right but he did not give any particular significance to this. However, he saw that the left eye was "wide open" and out of focus, "indecisive," "noncommittal and dreamy." The left side of the face seemed "primitive," "immature" and "unfinished." Its weak expression was "sad and undetermined" in contrast to the determined strength of the right side. The left brow was "anxious, ever slightly elevated and concerned."* Written on his face was "humor, pathos, half-smile, half-sadness; half-anger, half-forgiveness, half-determination, half-pause; .... a dual Nature struggling with a dual problem delivering a single result."

Borglum's description of Lincoln's face is the most careful and thorough given heretofore by any artist or biographer, but he made no attempt to find why the left side was characterless, weak and undeveloped and the right side expressed the real personality and state of mind of Lincoln.

* Dr. Frechette's emphasis
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