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Washington Irving and his Literary Friends at Sunnyside

Christian Schussele1864

Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery

Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery

The artists Christian Schussele and Felix Darley created this apocryphal gathering of leading writers at Sunnyside, Washington Irving's Hudson River home, to honor the literary culture created by America's founding generation of writers. By making Irving the center of the image, the artists both glorify his career and at the same time celebrate the national culture. But in doing so, they made the writers too much alike. As a New York critic wrote, "If [Irving] could have caught a glimpse of such a gathering . . . [he] would have dashed out of doors." Nonetheless, the group portrait is an important summing up of an era in which American literature found its voice and created a vigorous national culture that a new generation—Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, Stephen Crane—would later enhance.

Sitters: Washington Irving (3 Apr 1783 - 28 Nov 1859); Henry Theodore Tuckerman (1813 - 1871); Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (29 Aug 1809 - 7 Oct 1894); Nathaniel Hawthorne (4 Jul 1804 - May 1864);Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (27 Feb 1807 - 24 Mar 1882); Nathaniel Parker Willis (20 Jan 1806 - 20 Jan 1867); James Kirke Paulding (22 Aug 1778 - 6 Apr 1860); William Cullen Bryant (3 Nov 1794 - 12 Jun 1878); John Pendleton Kennedy (25 Oct 1795 - 18 Aug 1870); William Gillmore Simms (17 Apr 1806 - 11 Jun 1870); Fitz-Greene Halleck (8 Jul 1790 - 19 Nov 1867); William Hickling Prescott (4 May 1796 - 28 Jan 1859); Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 1882);James Fenimore Cooper (15 Sep 1789 - 14 Sep 1851); George Bancroft (3 Oct 1800 - 17 Jan 1891)

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