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Date: Around 1863-64
Place: Washington, D.C.
Photographer: Alexander Gardner
Note: Whitman identifies this photograph as "taken from life 1863 / war time Washington / D C." He referred to this as "the best picture of all," and recalls a reporter writing about it that "Whitman had been photographed in his night-dress" (a comment that Whitman said made Gardner "fiery mad"). This is no doubt the photo Whitman had in mind when he wrote in an 1869 Washington Chronicle article about the best portraits of himself, and noted "Mr. Gardiner [sic], on Seventh street . . . has a capital photo." Late in his life, Whitman described the photo as having "Almost the old professor look." Whitman said that Thomas Eakins preferred this photo to all others: "Eakins likes it—”says it is the most powerful picture of me extant—”always excepting his own, to be sure." Looking at the photo, Whitman mused, "How well I was then!—”not a sore spot—”full of initiative, vigor, joy—”not much belly, but grit, fibre, hold, solidity. Indeed, all through those years—”that period—”I was at my best—”physically at my best, mentally, every way."
Type: Carte-de-visite
Credit: Alderman Library, University of Virginia
ID: 013

Image 013


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