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

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Portrait of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1881

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Portrait of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1881 / Bowdoin College Museum of Art

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow died March 24, 1882, after months of struggling with a stomach sickness, possibly cancer, and he was buried next to both his wives in beautiful Mt. Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge.

Charles Calhoun points out the irony of the speedy evaporation of the poet's "substantial reputation" following such a celebrated life and posthumous tributes that included the installment of a bronze portrait bust by Thomas Brock in Poets' Corner at Westminster Abbey. Longfellow was only American poet so honored.

The public irony may obscure a private one, as the great man sat for a final portrait from life by his own son.

Ernest was able to compare the merits of the completed 1881 Bowdoin commission relative to his 1876 painting despite his loss, doubtless because he needed to pursue his own course as an artist, just as his father had, whether or not he reached the same peaks.


Item 34 of 35