Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci circa 1487

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Harold Holzer Letter

Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci circa 1487

Abraham Lincoln Prairie Lawyer, Terra Cotta by James Nance John terra cotta by James Nance Portrait of Jenny, Terra Cotta by James Nance

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Senior Vice President for External Affairs


April 15, 2006

(Recipient Name and Address Omitted)


Dear Dan:

I write upon learning that an artists' competition is underway for a commission to create a monumental bronze statue of Lincoln for the Old Dayton Courthouse, and that the sculptor James Nance has submitted a proposal for this work.


I have known and admired Jim Nance's work for several years, and consider his Lincoln works, "Prairie Lawyer" and "Immortal Conscience," to be among the best-sculpted likenesses of the 16th President that I have ever seen. A you know, I have been a student of Lincoln imagery for more than 30 years, and have examined, researched, and written about the great Lincoln sculptures of the past century-and-a-half in books, articles, and monographs. I am familiar with every work created from 1860 onward, and believe I am not exaggerating when I say the "Prairie Lawyer" in particular is as good a likeness of the pre-presidential Lincoln as any ever produced - or likely to be produced by any artist. Considering that it was done in our lifetime, not Lincoln's without the benefit of exposure to the subject himself, but rather from one-dimensional images, it is all the more remarkable.


Happily, there are many fine sculptors working in the Lincoln field these days, and Jim Nance is certainly among the best.  I am sure his talent, record, and commitment would make him an excellent choice for this exciting commission.  I have no doubt that his work would do honor to Lincoln's Dayton connection, as made so well known to so many readers by Lloyd Ostendorf.  The family could not have a better advocate in bronze to translate this association - this history- into bronze. I am confident, writing on this high holy day of the Lincoln Calendar, that the greatest of our presidents would literally be in good hands in the hands of sculptor James Nance.


Harold Holzer



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