Preliminary drawing for oil sold to Hermitage Museum & Gardens
Volk/Hewn Oaks collection
This is one of several preliminary drawings for oil portraits of Lincoln painted by Douglas Volk; probably dating to after 1900. Volk's father Leonard created Lincoln's life mask in 1860 with Douglas present. According to family lore, he was sitting in Abe's lap during the visit. This had a profound effect on the young man, inspiring him to portray Lincoln in a variety of poses and at different times in his life, using his father's life mask and a three-d bust as a launching pad. We do not know how many Lincoln portraits were painted but when I acquired the Volk/Hewn Oaks grouping in 2017, as I sifted through it, noticing a handful of Lincoln drawings, I set about tracing the location of those examples in museums, a task facilitated by the internet. The National Gallery, Portland (Maine) Museum of Art, the Memorial Gallery in Rochester, and on... One path led to a museum new to me, in Norfolk, VA, the Hermitage Museum & Gardens. It turns out that the Hermitage was originally a country home for the Sloane family (related to the department store merchants W. and J. Sloane, NYC) who were ardent art collectors that helped found what later became the Chrysler Museum. Douglas Volk portrayed several members of the Sloane family, as well as painting a large and dynamic oil portrait of Lincoln striding forward with a propelling wind at his back. Thanks to the museum's informative website, I was able to contact Lindsay Neal, the friendly and energetic Curator of Collections. Just one month later, she drove north with an equally pleasant colleague to visit me and sift through the collection. For a young curator, Lindsay was impressive for her passion, curiosity, and patience in rummaging through quite a lot of material. While the museum's primary interest was this drawing, Lindsay also found a handful of preliminary drawings for other Volk portraits and ideal paintings in the Hermitage collection, as well as period photographs of several of those paintings, one of which revealed that Volk changed details in the final version of one portrait. I'm happy to say that through purchase and gift, the Hermitage's collection has been enlarged significantly. And I have a road trip to make!