In celebration of Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday, here’s a little tidbit you may not have known:
Did you know Albion has a Lincoln connection?
Franklin C. Courter (1854-1947), former student and art professor at Albion College 1888-1895, painted this famous portrait of Lincoln and Sojourner Turth that was exhibited at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, “Lincoln Showing Sojourner Truth the Bible Presented Him by the Colored People of Baltimore.” The painting was exhibited in the Michigan building at the World’s Fair.
After the Columbian Exposition, the portrait was hung in the Battle Creek Sanitarium, where it was later destroyed during a fire. Later in life, Courter made a studio in New York City, where the portraiture of President Lincoln was his specialty. He was also commissioned often to restore the paintings of John Singer Sargent.
Courter was also a collector of Lincolniana, owning a group of 22 portraits of the former president, copies of 43 of the 48 authentic Lincoln photographs then in existence, life and death masks of the martyred president and casts of his hands, in addition to a number of documents relating to him. At one time, three of Courter’s own portraits of Lincoln hung in the college chapel (now Dickie Hall). One of these hangs in the Stockwell Memorial Library, another, pictured below, is located in the College Archives. “Lincoln in Repose” was presented to G. Lynn Sumner, ’07, by one hundred of his friends on February 6, 1941 at his presentation of “Abe Lincoln, The Man” for The Advertising Club of New York City. Sumner was also a great Lincoln collector, with over 1000 volumes in his library.
Courter is also responsible for the painting of Lewis Ransom Fiske that hangs in the President’s Room in the Stockwell building. It was a gift to the College by the Class of 1895. While in Albion’s employ, Courter taught both G. Glenn Newell, ’91, well-known for his Liberty Bond posters and landscapes of farm life, and Lynn Bogue Hunt, 1901, a famous illustrator of wildlife. Courter also taught Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, whose objective in studying with Courter was to establish a background for his chalk-talks and studies in anatomy.