Friday, October 26, 2012

The Great Emancipator in Mosaic

This image is part of a series of mosaics at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Los Angeles. These days, it seems that Abraham Lincoln, once deified as a "Great Emancipator," has fallen from such elevated graces. What do you think? Does this image strike you as an accurate depiction of the 16th president?


  1. It's certainly idealized - Lincoln not only as emancipator but bringer of racial equality. I wonder who painted it and when. It raises questions like do the freed slave family own this cotton plantation?

  2. I thought I made note of that when I took the picture. But I checked my files and apparently I did not. I will head back out in a few and check on the artist and date. It is definitely idealized

  3. This painting is so in line with the "Lost Cause" and the "GAR forever" sentiments of the past 150 years. And the subject matter...when did slave shacks have colorful plants in front of them, and a window door for the main entrance? Like they would be looking for the Postman, waiting on that EP copy, sent from Washington.
    Standing down by the water with the male without his shirt mades it look like Lincoln is baptisting the slave with freedom. Upstretched arms, and suffer not the little children-type scene as to portray Lincoln as a deity.
    Painting MUST be a parody of some sort.

  4. I am not sure I see your Lost Cause connection, Robert. Slavery and emancipation are too central to story in this image. I do however agree that slave cabin, as modest as it is, is just a little too nice to be an accurate depiction of the institution.
    The image is part of a series of mosaics at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Los Angeles. From my perspective they represent a very powerful (although highly idealized) depiction of Lincoln as the mythic emancipator figure - as are typical of that genre.
    You can see them here:
    Thanks for the comment!

  5. The Lost Cause and GAR reference is to the OVER-glorification of either side of the conflict...and this image is definitely in that mold. I have read about Lincoln, and his meetings with various leaders (Frederick Douglas, etc.) about freeing, then SENDING slaves to an African colony. Maybe Lincoln should have a boarding pass in his hand for the family?
    Beautiful colors in this mosaic. Very nicely done. However, my opinion of it is more glorified are most of the GAR and Lost Cause literature and art. Thanks for the reply, Keith. :)