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Abe Lincoln… in color?
Abraham Lincoln is enjoying a renaissance these days. While he was often cited as an inspiration for President Barack Obama during his first campaign, specifically Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book Team of Rivals, he’s now getting even more interest as that book has been adapted into a movie. Starring Oscar-winner Daniel Day-Lewis, the Steven Spielberg-directed Lincoln opens nationwide next week. So it goes to follow there are a lot of think pieces out there on the former president, including one in TIME. But there’s something else fascinating going on with TIME’s piece: specifically, Abe Lincoln in full color.
The magazine commissioned Sanna Dullaway to work some digital magic on photos of Lincoln for their feature, giving them vibrant color as if they were taken yesterday and not 150 years ago. Dullaway’s done this before and TIME gave us a peek behind the process.
In each of these renderings, Dullaway’s use of color is subtle and sophisticated–yielding images that maintain the photographic integrity of their originals, while presenting a look at how these photographs may have come out had color photography existed at the time. That nuanced ability to handle color runs in the family; Dullaway’s father is painter.
The images take anywhere from 40 minutes to three hours to produce, and for the young artist, it’s a way of bringing a contemporary perspective to older works. “History has always been black and white to me, from the World War I soldiers to the 1800s, when ladies wore grand but colorless dresses,” Dullaway says. “By colorizing, I watch the photos come alive, and suddenly the people feel more real and history becomes more tangible.”
This kind of approach isn’t new, though, as another project by Bryan Eaton whose Color of Lincoln project has done similar colorizing of Lincoln photos over the last several years.