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Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman, Oil
Herbert Gilchrist (British, 1857 – 1914)

Herbert Gilchrist painted this portrait of the influential American poet Walt Whitman when the writer was 68 years old. Gilchrist and his mother, Anne, were both devotees of Whitman and met with him almost daily when they resided in Philadelphia during the late 1870s. Gilchrist’s portrait of Whitman was favorably received by the public, although Whitman himself commented that Gilchrist had “prettified” him too much.

The Poetry Foundation describes Walt Whitman as “America’s world poet—a latter-day successor to Homer, Virgil, Dante, and Shakespeare,” also commenting that “along with Emily Dickinson, Whitman is regarded as one of America’s most significant 19th-century poets and would influence later many poets, including Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, Allen Ginsberg, Simon Ortiz, C.K. Williams, and Martin Espada."