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Mary Todd Lincoln painting deemed a fake by art experts

February 13, 2012 |  7:00 am

  Lincoln

A portrait supposedly of Mary Todd Lincoln, the wife of Abraham Lincoln, that has hung in the Illinois governor's mansion for years has been deemed a fake by art experts.

James Cornelius, a curator at the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum, told the Chicago Tribune  that restoration work revealed that the real subject of the portrait is actually an anonymous woman and not Mary Todd Lincoln. The artist signature also appears to have been added after the painting was completed.

The Tribune reported that the painting was sold to the Lincoln family in the late 1920s under the pretext that it was a gift that Mary Lincoln planned to give to her husband before he was assassinated in 1865.

A report in the New York Times states that the offending artist, Ludwig Pflum, probably added details to an existing painting of an unknown woman to make the portrait appear to be of Mary Todd Lincoln. 

The portrait stayed in the Lincoln family's possession until Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith gave it to the Illinois historical library in 1976, according to the Tribune's report. The painting has hung in the governor's mansion in Springfield, Ill.

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-- David Ng

Photo: A detail of the painting that was believed to portray Mary Todd Lincoln. Credit: Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum

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