Monday, September 6, 2010

Galesburg Dedicating New Lincoln Statue

A new statue of President Abraham Lincoln will be unveiled today, Labor Day, at the Galesburg, Illinois Amtrak depot at 225 Seminary Street. The new 2,500 pound granite statue will be dedicated at a ceremony after Galesburg's Labor Day parade.
Modeled after the famous statue of Lincoln by the female sculptor, Vinnie Ream, the larger than life sized image of the 16Th president, will be placed upon a granite pedestal making the entire monument approximately 11 feet tall and the overall weight at 11,000 pounds.

The statue depicts Lincoln with his right hand extended holding the Emancipation Proclamation. He has a cloak draped over his right arm and his left hand holds the other side of cloak, keeping it from dragging on the floor.

Vinnie Ream, the sculptress of the original that stands in the Rotunda of the Capital Building in Washington D.C., was born near Madison, Wisconsin in 1847. He father worked for the U.S. government and moved to the capital city in 1862.
Ream had the opportunity to model her Lincoln from life. It has been reported that she spent 5 months at the White House sculpting a bust of Lincoln, who sat for Ms. Ream many times. After Lincoln's death, she entered a competition for a $10,000 congressional commission to sculpt Lincoln for a memorial to the martyred president. The 18 year old girl, bested 18 other more noted and older sculptors to gain the commission but not without a certain amount of controversy due to the sculptors age and sex.
Her choice for the commission was quite controversial but ultimately her talent prevailed and she started working on the piece in 1867. Ream travelled to Rome where she hand picked the Cararra marble for her statue. She spent nearly two years overseas in Italy, and returned to the U.S. with her finished full length marble of President Lincoln. The unveiling occurred on January 25, 1871. The reactions to her piece were originally positive but some critics attacked her technique and skills.
Other examples of Ream's work are the the statue of Admiral Farragut in Washington's Farragut Square. In the U.S. Capital's Statuary Hall, Ream's statue of Samuel Jordan Kirkwood, the governor and U.S. Senator, represents the state if Iowa. Also in the capital, Ream's statue of Sequoya, the native American credited with inventing the written alphabet for the Cherokee language, represents the state of Oklahoma.
Vinnie Ream Hoxie died in November of 1914 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Her grave is marked by a large monument topped by her sculpture of Sappho, the ancient Greek poetess..

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