Mural shows Lincoln's feelings for stepmother

Sunday, December 16, 2001

CHARLESTON, Ill. -- One of the first murals Glen Davies ever painted, when he was 12 or 13, was of Abraham Lincoln sitting in a chair.

That painting has since been lost, left behind at a Chicago apartment Davies shared with other students when he was enrolled at the School of the Art Institute. But now, nearly 40 years later, Davies has painted another Lincoln mural, one both historical and intimate, for the Charleston Area Chamber of Commerce.

The mural will go on an outside wall of the chamber building in downtown Charleston.

The 8-by-4-foot acrylic painting on maximum-density plywood depicts Lincoln bidding goodbye to his stepmother, Sarah Bush Lincoln, on Jan. 31, 1861, in a doorway of the Moore home south of Charleston where Mrs. Lincoln then lived. Her stepson had quietly traveled by train to visit her before he left Illinois for Washington, D.C.

The painting shows Lincoln standing next to his stepmother and leaning over to look at her. She gazes up at him. Behind them is an oval braided rug on the wood-plank floor and a candleholder on a small table.

Lincoln and his stepmother had a close relationship, and Davies' mural shows that. It also strikes a poignant note: Mrs. Lincoln is said to have told her stepson that she feared she would never see him again. She never did.

"All this is historically correct," said Corinne Russell, director of tourism for the chamber of commerce. "We wanted to make sure the history is represented the way it was."

Davies' Lincoln mural is the seventh created for "The Murals Around the Square" project launched in 1998 by Charleston. An additional six murals have been proposed.

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