By Edward Epstein
Dec. 21, 2021
President Joe Biden has posted a yuletide greeting to his White House social media accounts that will warm the hearts of fans of President Abraham Lincoln.
The White House video shows a blazing yule log in the fireplace of the State Dining Room, with George Healy's portrait
of a pensive Lincoln hanging over the mantle.
Lincoln had posed for Healy in 1864, according to White House websites, but the heartbroken artist stopped work on the portrait after Lincoln's assassination in April 1865. Healy moved to Paris and finished his work in 1869. That was just around the time that Congress authorized a Lincoln portrait for display in the White House. Healy shipped his painting home for consideration, but President Ulysses S. Grant picked another painting, by William Cogswell for purchase.
Robert Todd Lincoln, the president's son, stepped up and bought Healy's work. Robert died a few months after participating in the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial in May 1922, and his widow Mary Harlan Lincoln, donated the painting to the White House, where it became part of the permanent art collection. It has hung in a place of honor in the executive mansion ever since.
Biden's greeting can be viewed at https://fb.watch/a08icjNvSL/