Skip to main content

Hartmann, C. Sadakichi (ca. 1867–1944)

Like the character he played in the 1924 film The Thief of Bagdad, Whitman enthusiast C. Sadakichi Hartmann played court magician to successive bohemian circles. Hartmann also produced a significant legacy as art historian and pioneer in the field of photographic criticism (sometimes aka Sidney Allan).

Son of a German diplomat and a Japanese woman, Hartmann studied widely in Europe before undertaking a career as an art critic and impresario in the United States. Having visited Whitman in Camden on several occasions beginning in 1884, experiences he would later publish as Conversations with Walt Whitman (1895), Hartmann in 1887 set about creating a Whitman Society in Boston. It collapsed due to Hartmann's high-handed tactics, opposition from Whitman confederates, and the poet's reluctance to be so commemorated. Resentments over his New York Herald account of conversations with Whitman (14 April 1889) further alienated him from the Whitman coterie.

As Greenwich Village's "King of Bohemia" and eventually as a colorful denizen of San Francisco and Hollywood circles, he continued, however, to reminisce about Whitman. Most remembered among his prolific writings are A History of American Art (1902) and essays for Camera Work.


Hartmann, Sadakichi. The Sadakichi Hartmann Papers. Ed. Clifford Wurfel and John Batchelor. Riverside: U of California, Riverside Library, 1980.

———. White Chrysanthemums: Literary Fragments and Pronouncements. Ed. George Knox and Harry Lawton. New York: Herder, 1971.

———. The Whitman-Hartmann Controversy: Including "Conversations with Walt Whitman" and Other Essays. Ed. George Knox and Harry Lawton. Bern: Lang, 1976.

Back to top