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Walt Whitman, Half-Length Portrait, Seated, Facing Left, Wearing Hat and Sweater, Holding Butterfly
This photograph of the American poet Walt Whitman, taken in 1877, was one of Whitman's favorites. He used the butterfly-on-hand as a recurring motif in his books and intended for this photo to be reproduced as the frontispiece in this sample proof of Leaves of Grass from 1891. To foster the image of himself as one with nature, he claimed that insect was real and one of his "good friends." In fact, the die-cut cardboard butterfly was clearly a photographic prop. Now in the collections of the Library of ...
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Library of Congress
Walt Whitman's Cardboard Butterfly
Shown here is the brilliantly colored cardboard butterfly that belonged to the American poet Walt Whitman. In 1877 Whitman had a photograph taken by W. Curtis Taylor of Broadbent & Taylor in Philadelphia of himself holding the butterfly, a portrait Whitman intended to use as the frontispiece for a new edition of Leaves of Grass. To foster the image of himself as one with nature, he claimed that insect was real and one of his "good friends." In fact, the die-cut cardboard butterfly was clearly a photographic prop. Now in the ...
Contributed by
Library of Congress