Of this partially opaque vignette portrait made from one of the five Matthew Brady photographs taken in Washington on January 8, 1864, Lincoln said: “I don’t know that I have any favorite portrait of myself; but I have thought that if I looked like any of the likenesses of me that have been taken, I look most like that one.”
Before television, before radio, before even, the daily use of photography itself, Lincoln realized the political importance of his image: a Western Everyman, rawboned, striking but unhandsome, and instantly recognizable. Lincoln sat for his photo some forty times, and his unmistakable visage graced thousands upon thousands of carte-de-visites – 4 by 2 ½ inch trade cards on which a 3 ½ by 2 ¼ inch image was affixed – like the one he signed for an admirer, here.
Signed Photo (“A. Lincoln”), being a carte-de-visite by Matthew Brady, Washington D.C., January 8, 1864. Hamilton & Ostendorf, O-87A