Walt Whitman's House

Walt Whitman's Birthplace

Childe Hassam (b. 1859 - d. 1935)

Walt Whitman’s Birthplace

1927

etching

Knox College Art Collection

Hassam was a central figure in pioneering American Impressionism. In this print, he depicts the childhood home of the poet Walt Whitman, another American icon who is often glorified for forging a national literary tradition. Hassam’s brand of Impressionism followed an American tradition of a naturalistic view of everyday reality. He adopted etching during the latter part of his career due to its inexpensive nature and technical freedom. His experimental, loosely executed prints contributed greatly to the etching revival in America. The subject of Whitman’s home carries nationalistic overtones that coincide with a period of political and cultural isolationism in the United States following World War I. The combination of style and the visual commemoration of Whitman’s birthplace was intended as a patriotic image to promote a sense of American creative exceptionalism and cultural independence from Europe.

Alyx Farris

Historical Documentation
Walt Whitman's House