Aaron DiManna
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Six Degrees of Separation: 15th Century Dutch Paintings to Abraham Lincoln

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Six degrees of separation is the idea that any two individuals are a maximum of six acquaintance links from one another. The concept was popularized when four college students became enthusiastic about an interview Kevin Bacon had given in 1994, during which he stated that he had either worked with everyone in Hollywood or knew somebody who had. Everybody loves bacon, right?

Today, the concept has permeated popular culture and become a parlor game, as well as a way to waste time on the internet.

In that spirit, I will now connect the Early Netherlandish Renaissance to the man on America’s least valuable form of currency: Abraham Lincoln.

Matthew McConaughey with a Lincoln MKZ.
“Alright, alright, alright”
Photo: Lincoln

Our journey begins in 1450, in Hertogenbosch, Netherlands, with the birth of one Jheronimus Van Aken. Van Aken would eventually come to be known by a different name: Hieronymus Bosch. Bosch is remembered today for his famous paintings, such as The Garden of Earthly Delights, among others.

Fast-forward to 1992, when an author by the name of Michael Connelly released an Edgar Award-winning mystery novel called The Black Echo. The Black Echo focused on a Vietnam War veteran and homicide detective, known as Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch. Today, Harry Bosch is portrayed by Titus Welliver on the Amazon original show Bosch.

Jump ahead 13 years, to 2005, when Connelly published a novel about Bosch’s half-brother Mickey Haller, an LA Lawyer who operates his practice out of his car. That car? A Lincoln Town Car. The name of that novel? The Lincoln Lawyer.

The Lincoln Lawyer was later adapted for the big screen and starred Matthew McConaughey as the titular Lincoln Lawyer. At this point, it’s worth mentioning that the film predated McConaughey’s role as the face of the Lincoln brand by several years, but the crossover makes for an amusing aside. It’s also worth noting, as mentioned by Phil Patton from The New York Times, that The Lincoln Lawyer served as something of a swan song for the Lincoln Town Car, which was discontinued in 2011, the same year as the film’s release.

From here, there are two possible avenues to get us to Honest Abe. The first, and most obvious, is that the Lincoln brand was named after President Lincoln. But that seems anticlimactic, as would mentioning McConaughey’s role in the Civil War drama The Free State of Jones.

So, the parallel I would like to draw is that both Mickey Haller and Abraham Lincoln were lawyers. Lincoln would ride a horse to the courthouse, and Haller rode in a Lincoln.

Coincidence? Who’s to say?