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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. 1850

Item 4110  info
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ca. 1850 / Maine Historical Society

Three regional museums collect and display portraits of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:

-The Wadsworth-Longfellow House, 489 Congress Street, Portland, Maine 04101, operated by Maine Historical Society. Their collection includes three paintings as well as photos, prints, and sculptures.
Maine Memory Network

-The Craigie House/Longfellow National Historic Site, 105 Brattle Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, operated by the National Park Service. The house museum displays eight original drawings and paintings of the poet, as well as photographs and four marble busts. The archive stores another painted portrait, several drawings, including Longfellow children's drawings of their papa, approximately sixty prints based on original portraits, and hundreds of photographs.
Longfellow National Historic Site website

-The Bowdoin College Library and Museum of Art, Brunswick, Maine 04011. The library displays an oil portrait of their illustrious 1825 graduate and professor, and the museum displays two more. The library's Special Collections conserves the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow collection with more than fifty-five prints, photos, silhouettes, and clippings of the poet's image.

Bowdoin College Library
Longfellow Collection at Bowdoin College Library


This slide show samples from these institutions' extensive collections with regard to a primary theme:

-Contrast original 2-D images (paintings, drawings, photos, cut silhouettes) with their commercially replicated print versions (engravings, lithographs, inked silhouettes), with special attention to artists' interpretations of the poet's personality

The show suggests three additional themes for contemplation or discussion as well:

-Examine the famous man's aging process and biography through his changing appearance

-Observe changes in the technology of producing nineteenth century portraits demonstrated in commercial printmaking and photography, and link them to changing cultural mores

-Identify some of the more or less obscure artists trying to earn a living through portraiture in New England during Longfellow's lifetime

Sources:
Bowdoin College Library, George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections and Archives, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Collection, M112.5.1, Box 4

Bowdoin College Museum of Art

Maine Memory Network, www.mainememory.net
The Maine Historical Society and Wadsworth/Longfellow House

National Park Service, Longfellow National Historic Site/Craigie House and archives

Baigell, Matthew. A Concise History of American Painting and Sculpture. rev. ed. New York: Icon Editions, 1996.

Brommer, Gerald F. Discovering Art History. 2nd ed. Worcester: Davis Publications, 1988.

Calhoun, Charles C. Longfellow: A Rediscovered Life. Boston: Beacon Press, 2004.

Strickler, Susan E. American Portrait Miniatures: The Worcester Art Museum Collection. Worcester: Worcester Art Museum, 1989.
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Sydney Smith's quote was published in The Edinburgh Review vol. 3, January, 1820, completely as:
"In the four quarters of the globe, who reads an American book, or goes to an American play, or looks at an American picture or sculpture?"

 

Item 35 of 35