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Walt Whitman to John White Alexander, 20 February 1886

Dear Sir1

Yours of 19th rec'd​ —Yes, Monday will suit me—will be ready for you by 10 1/2 a m—

Walt Whitman

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 to 1889.


  • 1. For three days beginning on Monday, February 22, 1886, 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.). The naturalist John 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, Thursday, May 10, 1888 and Friday, June 8, 1888). [back]
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