Lincoln in Beersheba
The elaborate frame and bunting give this painting the feel of a memorial. In it Grooms may be depicting Lincoln as immortal in the Promised Land, or Beersheba. When Lincoln was shot on April 14, 1865, Americans on the side of the Union were still rejoicing for Robert E. Lee's surrender just five days earlier. Poet Walt Whitman, whose portrait hangs at the beginning of this exhibition, wrote these famous lines as a metaphor for his grief: O Captain! My Captain! our fearful trip is done; The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won; The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting, While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring: But O heart! heart! heart! O the bleeding drops of red, Where on the deck my Captain lies, Fallen cold and dead. If the angle of Lincoln's head looks familiar in this painting, it is because it is the same as his portrait on today's $5-dollar bill, inspired by a February 1864 Brady Studio photograph by Anthony Berger.