Title: Walt Whitman to John White Alexander, 20 February 1886
Date: February 20, 1886
Source: The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, ed. Edwin Haviland Miller (New York: New York University Press, 1961–1977), 4:20. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the correspondence, see our statement of editorial policy.
Location: Manuscripts Division, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library
Whitman Archive ID: pru.00001
Contributors to digital file: Grace Thomas, Nima Najafi Kianfar, Elizabeth Lorang, and Kyle Barton
328 Mickle Street
Camden Feb: 20 '86
Yours of 19th rec'd—Yes, Monday will suit me—will be ready for you by 10 1/2 a m—
John White Alexander (1856-1915) was an American painter and illustrator, well known for his portraits of famous Americans including Oliver Wendell Holmes and John Burroughs, as well as Whitman, whose portrait he worked on from 1886–1889.
1. For three days beginning on Monday, February 22, Whitman sat for a portrait by Alexander. On April 17, 1891, Alexander informed Whitman that one of the poet's admirers had purchased and presented the painting to the Metropolitan Museum of Art: "I am delighted to have been the means of giving to future generations a portrait of you that is certainly one of my best works" (Whitman's Commonplace Book, Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.). Burroughs, however, termed the portrait "a Bostonese Whitman—an emasculated Whitman—failing to show his power and ruggedness" (Clara Barrus, Whitman and Burroughs—Comrades [Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1931], 261). Whitman himself was not impressed (Horace Traubel, With Walt Whitman in Camden, 9 vols. [1906–1996], 1:132, 284). [back]