LINCOLN, Abraham, President. MIDDLETON, Elijah C., artist. Oval portrait of President Lincoln, after a photograph by Anthony Berger of Matthew Brady's studio. Cincinnati, Ohio, 1864.
Oval lithograph, printed on paper carefuly affixed to canvas, 420 x 360mm approximately. In its original decorative gilt frame. Verso with printed legend: "Warranted oil colors. Entered according to Act of Congress, in the Year 1864 In the Clerk's office of the Southern District of Ohio, Cincinnati."
A fine war-date image of Lincoln, having the appearance of an original oil painting (and sometimes mistaken as such). It is the only print on which Lincoln himself offered criticism and suggestions to the artist. The chromolithograph, executed in Middleton's patented "oil colors" is certainly based on the same seated photograph, taken on 9 February 1864 by Anthony Berger of Brady's studio later used for other prints and which also served as the model for the likeness on the U.S. five-dollar bill. Middleton, in his efforts to portray a faithful likeness of the President, had sent a proof of the proposed large-format portrait to Lincoln through an intermediary in late 1864. Lincoln responded on 30 December 1964: "Your picture is, in the main, very good. From a line across immediately above the eyebrows downward it appears to me perfect, Above such a line I think it is not so good-that is, while it gives perhaps a better fore-head, it is not quite true to the original" (Collected Works, 8:191-192). Presumably Middleton made changes before the portrait was advertised for sale. It proved a popular--though relatively expensive--portrait. Two other copies we have seen are in the identical gilt frame. (See Holzer, Boritt & Neely, The Lincoln Image, pp.135-139; Schneider, Collecting Lincoln, p.72.)