“The Animal Himself!”

Volk made a plaster life mask of Lincoln in April 1860 in preparation for a bust and full-length statue for the Illinois State Capitol. Sixteen years after the assassination, Volk wrote an account of the time he spent with Lincoln. His reminiscence portrays Lincoln as a modest, easygoing man with a self-deprecating sense of humor. Lincoln is reported to have exclaimed to the sculptor, as the bust took shape and a likeness emerged: “There is the animal himself !” Volk recalled that when he last met Lincoln, in January 1861, the president-elect told him that he had lost forty pounds since the mask was cast. Volk noted: “This was easily perceptible, for the lines of his jaws were very sharply defined through the short beard which he was allowing to grow.”