HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW
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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, ca. 1835

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Portrait of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ca. 1835 / Longfellow National Historic Site

In his recently published biography, Longfellow, a Rediscovered Life, Charles Calhoun quotes Elijah Kellogg's remembrance of his childhood friend: "He was a very handsome boy, retiring, without being reserved, there was a frankness about him that won you at once. He looked you square in the face. His eyes were full of expression, and it seemed as though you could look down into them as into a clear spring" (page 22). Maria Röhl's drawing might easily be mistaken for a portrait of Longfellow as the boy Kellogg described, but the popular lady artist rendered the youthful visage of the 28-year-old professor when he visited Europe for a second time as a married man preparing to teach at Harvard. Six weeks after their visit to Röhl's studio, Mary Storer Potter Longfellow suffered a miscarriage, attended at midnight only by her young husband. She never recovered and died quietly in a Rotterdam hotel on November 28, 1835, after only four years of marriage. Traveling the Alps seven months later, her grieving widower met Frances Appleton the nineteen-year-old Bostonian who would eventually become his second wife.

 

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