Sunday, April 17, 2016

151-Year-Old Painting by Assassination Eyewitness Now on Display - Lincoln Borne by Loving Hands

Lincoln Borne by Loving Hands by Carl Bersch

From our friends at Ford's Theatre...

National Park Service & Ford's Theatre Society Announce Display of Carl Bersch's Oil Painting - Lincoln Borne by Loving Hands

Restored painting to remain on display at Ford’s Theatre Museum

The National Park Service and Ford’s Theatre Society today announced that Carl Bersch’s oil on canvas painting, Lincoln Borne by Loving Hands, is now on display within the Ford’s Theatre Museum (511 Tenth Street, NW). Newly restored, the painting depicts the dramatic scene on Tenth Street NW, between E and F Streets, after President Abraham Lincoln was shot at Ford’s Theatre and his body was carried across the street to the Petersen boarding house on April 14, 1865. Lincoln Borne by Loving Hands is the only known artistic eyewitness depiction of the assassination of President Lincoln.

The Artist:
Carl Bersch (1834-1914) was a German-born portrait artist who worked in Baltimore and Washington, DC, after immigrating to the United States in 1861. On the night of President Lincoln’s assassination, Bersch was living in a boarding house on Tenth Street NW, adjacent to the Petersen House (where President Lincoln died). It is believed that Bersch was sketching the streetscape, which was specially illuminated by torchlight in celebration of the end of the Civil War, when alarmed patrons rushed from Ford’s Theatre proclaiming that President Abraham Lincoln had been shot. Bersch witnessed a group of men carry the wounded president from the Theatre to the Petersen House, where Lincoln would die the following morning at 7:22 AM.

The Painting's Provenance:
Lincoln Borne by Loving Hands remained in the Bersch family until 1932, when Carl Bersch’s daughter, Carrie L. Fischer, lent the painting to the museum at Ford’s Theatre. The painting was eventually willed to the White House in 1977 by Bersch’s granddaughter, Gerda Fischer Vey, and transferred to the National Park Service. Lincoln Borne by Loving Hands was recently conserved to remove layers of dirt and varnish, and to stabilize it for exhibition.

“Carl Bersh’s depiction of the mortally wounded Abraham Lincoln being carried out of Ford’s Theatre offers a unique ‘you-are-there’ perspective provided by an eyewitness to this pivotal event in American history,” said Gay Vietzke, superintendent of National Mall and Memorial Parks. “On the occasion of its centennial celebration, the National Park Service is pleased to return this newly conserved painting to display at Ford’s Theatre.”

“On this 151st anniversary of President Lincoln’s assassination, Carl Bersh’s remarkable painting has its Ford’s Theatre homecoming,” said Ford’s Theatre Director Paul R. Tetreault. “Hanging within the Ford’s Theatre Museum and located near both the clothes that Lincoln wore to Ford’s Theatre on the night of his assassination and not far from John Wilkes Booth’s infamous Deringer pistol, Lincoln Borne by Loving Hands powerfully rounds out the story of that fateful April night. We are eager for the public to experience it for themselves.”

See Lincoln Borne by Loving Hands:
A limited number of free, same-day tickets are available from the Ford’s Theatre Box Office on a first-come basis beginning at 8:30 AM. Due to high volume of visitors to the Ford’s Theatre campus during springtime, advance reservations are recommended. Advance tickets can be purchased at the Ford’s Theatre Box Office or online at Ticketmaster fees apply to online advance purchases. Advance tickets also are available to Ford’s Theatre members through the Membership Hotline at (202) 434-9454.

National Park Service and Ford’s Theatre Society Partnership:
Since reopening in 1968, more than 100 years after the April 14, 1865, assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, Ford’s Theatre has been one of the most visited sites in the nation’s capital. Operated through a partnership between the private non-profit 501(c)(3) Ford’s Theatre Society and the National Park Service, Ford’s Theatre is the premier destination in the nation’s capital to explore and celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s ideals and leadership principles: courage, integrity, tolerance, equality and creative expression.

Ford’s Theatre Society was founded under the guidance of executive producer Frankie Hewitt, who, during her 35-year tenure, established Ford’s as a living, working theatre producing performances that highlighted the diversity of the American experience. Since the arrival of Paul R. Tetreault as Director, critics and the theatre-going public have recognized Ford’s for the superior quality of its artistic programming. With works from the nationally acclaimed Big River to the world premieres of Meet John Doe, The Heavens Are Hung in Black, Liberty Smith, Necessary Sacrifices, The Widow Lincoln and The Guard, Ford’s Theatre is making its mark on the American theatre landscape. In the past decade, the mission of Ford’s Theatre Society expanded to include education as a central pillar. This expansion led to the creation and construction of the Center for Education and Leadership, which opened in February 2012. Currently, under the leadership of Board of Trustees Chairman Eric A. Spiegel, the Society is building Ford’s Theatre into a national destination for exploring Lincoln’s ideas and leadership principles and finding new ways to bring Lincoln’s legacy to life for the 21st-century learner.

For more information on Ford’s Theatre and the Ford’s Theatre Society, please visit