HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW
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Celebrity's Picture: Using Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's Portraits to Observe Historic Changes

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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ca. 1829

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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ca. 1829 / Maine Historical Society

Longfellow began his first professorship at his alma mater in 1829, essentially inventing his own curriculum and texts to teach modern languages and comparative literature until Harvard tapped him as Smith Professor of Modern Languages in 1834.

Portrait/miniature artist Thomas Badger established Brunswick ties, too, when he traveled from his Boston home base in 1826 to copy paintings in James Bowdoin III's unusually fine collection, housed as the college's art museum.

Badger profitably rendered some faculty portraits as well, possibly including the 18-year-old post-graduate Longfellow, but more likely returning in 1829 to depict the 22-year-old professor's first sitting for a professional oil portrait.

The painter, a grandson of noted colonial portraitist, Joseph Badger, was born in Reading, Massachusetts, and apprenticed to Alvan Fisher and John Ritto Penniman in Boston. He traveled northern New England regularly to ply his trade, as was the common practice for painters of the time.

 

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