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Famous Mary Todd Lincoln Painting Deemed A Fraud

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Ill. (Credit: www.alplm.org)

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Ill. (Credit: http://www.alplm.org)

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — On the official Illinois holiday honoring President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, word of a famous painting of his First Lady is being called a fraud.

As WBBM Newsradio’s John Hultman reports, the portrait of Mary Todd Lincoln hung in the Illinois Governor’s mansion in Springfield for 32 years.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Hultman reports


Folklore has it the Lincoln’s wife had Francis Bicknell Carpenter secretly paint her portrait, the artist behind the 1864 masterpiece, “First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation of President Lincoln.” Mary Todd Lincoln was going to surprise her husband with the portrait, legend has it.

But legend says Lincoln was assassinated before she had a chance to give the portrait to him, according to Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum curator James Cornelius.

Now that all seems a lie, after an art restorer determined the signature on the painting was added later.

Furthermore, Cornelius says the painting does not even depict Mary Todd Lincoln. Its original subject is an anonymous woman.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
Cornelius says the painting of whomever it is will still be displayed in the Lincoln Museum.