Pictures & Sound

Gallery of Images

Date: 1888?
Place: Unknown, probably Philadelphia
Photographer: Unknown, probably Frederick Gutekunst
Note: Frontispiece for November Boughs (1888), and in 1889 Leaves. Whitman labeled it "Walt Whitman in his 70th year," and claimed "the picture is in the nature of a surprise: my niece was here the other day—found it lying around—asked for it. It seems to me a satisfying picture, all in all." Whitman was disappointed that "no one likes the frontispiece. . . . All the boys turn up their noses—smell something wrong—think it won't do," but Whitman believed it "serves our purpose—is appropriate." He admitted to Thomas Harned that it was not "high art" but insisted he was "not looking for high art": "sometimes a picture which is elementally very simple, crude, has something to say, says something, in fact, which no amount of added finesse would strengthen or improve." Whitman was not so pleased with the "technicalities" of the photoengraving, but, he said, "damn the technicalities if the rest is all right!" Horace Traubel complained to the photoengraver that he had done a bad job, and the engraver replied, "It is bum—I wouldn't have been surprised if you had turned it down." But Whitman believed the photo fit November Boughs: "it has the same air, tone, ring, color: the same ruggedness, unstudiedness, unconventionality."
Type: Photogravure
Credit: Ohio Wesleyan University, Bayley Collection
ID: 109

Image 109


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