Former First Lady Portrait – a Fake

A portrait of Abraham Lincoln’s wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, that had hung in the Springfield, Illinois governor’s mansion for over 30 years has recently been discovered as a fake. The painting, thought to be by artist Francis Bicknell Carpenter had recently been sent out for cleaning.  While cleaning the famed portrait, art restorer Barry Bauman discovered that the artist’s “signature,” as well as several other details on the painting had actually been added at a later date.

The painting, which had been sold to Lincoln’s descendants in the 1920s for $3,000 was donated to the Illinois state historical society in 1976 by Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith, the great grandson of President Lincoln and his last living descendant. According to folklore, the portrait was supposedly commissioned by Mrs. Lincoln in 1864 as a surprise gift for her husband, who was assassinated before he had the chance to see it.

The Lincoln Library and Museum in Springfield is planning to present the findings at a lecture on April 26th.  February 12, 2012 marked Abraham Lincoln’s 203rd birthday.