“The Lincoln Monument on the West Plaza of the Nebraska State Capitol is the only structure on the grounds that predates Bertram Goodhue’s “Tower on the Plains” begun in 1922.
The Nebraska Legislature created the Lincoln Centennial Memorial Association on April 14, 1903, and authorized it to spend ten thousand dollars in state funds on the memorial, provided an equal amount could be raised from private contributions. Nebraska’s great orator William Jennings Bryan spoke to a crowd of thousands at the September 2, 1912 dedication of the statue.
When Daniel Chester French received the commission to produce the Lincoln statue in June 1909, he was one of America’s leading sculptors with works like the Minute Man in Concord, Mass and the Gallaudet Memorial in Washington, D.C. to his credit.
French collaborated with architect Henry Bacon to provide the Lincoln statue with its architectural setting. French stated he “purposely tried to represent Lincoln bearing the burdens and perplexities and problems of the Great War.” The statue’s attitude is one of reverence over a grave in keeping with the speech delivered at the dedication of the cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, November 19, 1863. The bronze statue is standing on a granite pedestal with the Gettysburg Address carved into the Rhode Island granite backdrop. French and Bacon had worked together before in artistic partnership and later collaborated in 1922 to produce the Lincoln Memorial with its seated Lincoln in Washington, D.C. In sculpting first the standing Lincoln in Nebraska, then the seated Lincoln in Washington, French relied on Leonard Volk’s life mask of Abraham Lincoln made in April 1860 and the photographs in the Frederick Meserve collection.” – Capitol.org
Artist: Daniel Chester French