Last Formal Photograph of Lincoln, with Son “Tad”
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In this albumen print, Lincoln’s youngest son Thomas is erroneously called “Thaddeus,” because of nickname “Tad.” An unfinished Washington Monument (construction began in 1848, but was not completed until 1884) rises in the background perhaps referencing the funerary motif of a broken column symbolic of a life cut short. This image, showing father and son posing for what would be Lincoln’s last sitting. ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
Photograph [taken by Alexander Gardner, February 5, 1865], Albumen print by Bouve, Boston, Mass. Captioned, “President Lincoln and his Son Thaddeus/ The Last Photograph the President Sat For/ Published by G.F Bouve & Co, 41 Brattle St, Boston.” Image 6¼ x 8½ in., mounted on original board, 8 x 10 in.
Thomas “Tad” Lincoln (1853-1871) was the fourth son of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln. At the time of his birth, the Lincolns had already lost their second-born son, Edward, in 1850. The family mourned third-born Willie in 1862. “Tad,” nicknamed by his father because he had a large head on a small body and wriggled like a tadpole, largely had free reign of the White House. He did not attend school and was the bane of many tutors. After Lincoln’s assassination, he, eldest son Robert (1843-1926), and Mary Todd (1818-1882) lived in Chicago. Tad, known for his devotion to his mother, died of heart failure in 1871.
Hamilton, Charles and Ostendorf, Lloyd, Lincoln in Photographs: An Album of Every Known Pose (Dayton, Ohio: Morningside House, 1985). O-114
Lorent, Stefan. Lincoln, His Life in Photographs. New York, 1941.
Meserve, Frederick Hill. Lincolniana: Historical Portraits and Views, Printed Directly from Original Negatives. New York. M- 96