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Date: Probably between 1869 and 1871
Place: New York or Washington, D.C.
Photographer: Mathew Brady
Note: In Library of Congress copies, Whitman dates this and the previous photograph 1871. The photograph has to be on or before that year, since on 8 June, Whitman wrote to Ellen O'Connor, telling her he had procured a copy for her ("the one with the hand up, which you liked"). A few years later he wrote to Ellen again, describing the photo as "the one with the hand up at the right side of the head—”so?" Whitman identified it as a Brady photo. In 1889 he guessed "it must have been taken fully twenty years ago" on one of his "flying trips" to New York from Washington. It was while looking at this photo in 1889 that Whitman explained what he saw to be the difficulty of photographing him properly: "my red, florid, blooded complexion—”my gray dull eyes—”don't consort well together: they require different trimmings: it is very hard to adjust the camera to both." Whitman attributed his photogenic qualities to his relaxed and natural attitude before the camera: "I don't fix up when I go to have the picture taken: they tell me nearly everybody does: that is a great item. . . . Startle, strikingness, brilliancy, are not factors in my appearance—”not a touch of them. As for me I think the greatest aid is in my insouciance—”my utter indifference: my going as if it meant nothing unusual. . . ."
Type: Print
Credit: Library of Congress
ID: 049

Image 049


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