Imagine you’re a present-day 18-year-old artist who lives in Washington, D.C. and you are so accomplished as a sculptor that the president of the United States allows you to work for half an hour a day in his office, creating a sculpture of him while he works at his desk in the Oval Office.
Vinnie Ream, a young sculptor, is the only person to have sculpted Abraham Lincoln from life. At 18 years old, President Lincoln sat for her sculpture (bust) of him. Shortly after his death, Ream requested — and was awarded — a Congressional commission to sculpt a full-size statue of Lincoln. The sculpture was unveiled with great ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda on a cold day in January 1871, when Ream was only 23.
Ream is an iconic figure for the National League of American Pen Women. She was a qualified NLAPW member in three categories: letters, art, and music. A harp musician, she made friends, among others, with composer and pianist Franz List. He was a frequent visitor at her studio in Rome, where she purchased the Carrara marble from which she sculpted the Lincoln statue.
The work and history of Vinnie Ream continues to inspire women through the National League of American Pen Women, whose headquarters in the historic Pen Arts Building and Art Museum, is on Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C.
In 2015, the NLAPW created the Vinnie Ream Award to honor award-winning members in four disciplines: art, letters, music, and multi-discipline. The first awards were presented to winners at the NLAPW 48th Biennial Vinnie Ream Banquet, hosted in Washington, DC, in April 2016.
The Karpeles Manuscript Museum in Jacksonville, Florida, hosted a special “Vinnie Ream Exhibit” from September 2 through October 30, 2016.