Senior Vice President for External Affairs
April 15, 2006
(Recipient Name and Address Omitted)
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.