Hearing about a teen girl who met with President Abraham Lincoln for thirty minutes a day over a five month period may make you think of affairs, scandals and inappropriate behavior.
But there was nothing untoward about 17-year-old Lavinia “Vinnie” Ream's relationship with President Lincoln, she was simply an amazing young artist who was given the chance to create sculptures of Lincoln.
Abraham Lincoln was a very busy man in 1864, so granting someone half an hour of his precious time a day was a big deal, but Lincoln didn't do it for posterity or the sake of art- he sat for Lavinia because she was in need:
Her friends in the Senate personally asked Lincoln to pose for the sculpture, but he declined. After hearing that she was a struggling artist from a Midwestern background not dissimilar to his own, however, Lincoln relented. “He granted me sittings for no other reason than that I was in need,” she later wrote. “Had I been the greatest sculptor in the world I am quite sure I would have been refused.”
Lavinia created a bust of Lincoln during that five month of half-hour sittings, and after his passing she agreed to make a full sized memorial statue of the President, becoming the youngest artist and first woman to receive a commission from the U.S. government.