LINCOLN, Abraham. GARDNER, Alexander, Photographer. Carte-de-visite photograph signed ("A. Lincoln") as President, backstamp of "Gardner...Washington. D.C.," [taken 9 August 1863]. Albumen photograph, 3 15/16 x 2 3/8 in., neatly mounted on stiff card within double ruled borders, signed in the blank area beneath the image in bold ink, verso with remnants of old mount. Hamilton and Ostendorf 0-72D.
PRESIDENT LINCOLN READS THE SUNDAY PAPERS
An image that shows the President seated at a marble-topped table, his reading glasses in his right hand, holding large, partially folded sheets of paper in his left hand which rests on the table top. The sheets strongly resemble a newspaper, and it seems a certainty that Gardner has here caught Lincoln in the act of reading the Sunday newspapers. The sitting which produced this and six similar images of the President took place on Sunday, August 9, 1863. In some large-format versions, the newsprint, in neat columns, is clearly visible. This marked Lincoln's first sitting at Gardner's recently opened Washington studio, at the corner of 7th and D. Streets. Lincoln's secretary, John Hay, noted in his diary under that day: "I went down with the President to have his picture taken at Gardner's. He was in very good spirits" (quoted by Mark Katz, Witness to an Era: The Life and Photographs of Alexander Gardner, p.112). Given recent war news, it is no wonder the President was in good spirits, for the last month had seen resounding, though costly, Union victories at both Gettysburg and Vicksburg, while the Knoxville and Chattanooga campains were just entering their early phases. In all the portraits from this day's sitting, Lincoln appears quite relaxed: serious and dignified, grave, but not somber. The image proved a popular one, and Gardner evidently sold a large number in different formats.