On Wednesday, a Twitter user reminded the internet that there’s a statue of Abraham Lincoln in the L.A. federal courthouse “where he’s a shirtless young stud suggestively tugging at his waistband like a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model.”
The statue of the young 16th president, by James Lee Hansen, has made quite a splash.
One Twitter user remarked, “Amongst the lawyers at the courthouse it’s considered good luck to tweak Honest Abe’s nipples.”
“I don’t know,” Hansen replied, “I’ve only done one piece of sculpture in my life.”
He was interested, however, and checked up—only to find that the contest, under way for several months, closed for the model entries in a week. Hansen got a supply of plaster and made a small figure of Lincoln.
Like the other contestants, he submitted it anonymously to the Fine Arts Section of the Federal Works Agency.
No one was more surprised than Hansen when he was notified his entry has won $7,200 and a commission to do the Lincoln statue. Within a year it was fashioned from Indiana limestone.
The pose shows Lincoln as a young man, wearing only a pair of jeans, with the thumb of one hand hooked in the band of the garment and with a book in the other hand.
Hansen shrugged off observations to the effect that his job had been criticized because Lincoln is shown without a shirt or shoes.
“Well, from a sculpturing standpoint, it’s better to show the body without any clothes,” he explained. “That’s why I left ’em off.”