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YEATS, W. B. (sitter); BOUGHTON, Alice (photo.)

Doubly inscribed portrait photograph.

New York: 1904 Stock Code: 131408
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"He looked the part of the poet"

A doubly inscribed portrait photo, inscribed by Yeats to Una Pope-Hennessy, "W B Yeats To Mrs Pope Hennessy" at the foot of the image, and additionally signed by the photographer, "Copyrighted by Alice Boughton Apr. 1904 New York". A remarkable photo, with an appealing association, by the renowned New York photographer. Alice Boughton (1876-1945) opened her portrait studio in New York in 1890 and quickly gained a reputation for photographing prominent literary and theatrical figures. Yeats's intense gaze in this shot is emphasised by the deep tones created by the platinum printing process that Boughton favoured.

The photo was almost certainly taken on 22 December 1903, during Yeats's first American tour, undertaken from 11 November 1903 to 9 March 1904. The sitting was arranged by Yeats's friend and champion, the Irish-American collector John Quinn. On 7 January 1904 Quinn wrote to Boughton to thank her for the prints. He noted that "Yeats received the three photographs which you sent him and was charmed by them". One of her images from the sitting, of Yeats reading, was published in the New York Herald on 17 January 1904. A second, although not the present image, was printed in Gaelic American on 5 March 1904. In her 1928 work Photographing the Famous, Boughton wrote that Yeats "was twice photographed by me... He looked the part of the poet with flowing tie and the long lock of hair over the forehead. He seemed shy and diffident, and I found it somewhat difficult to hold his attention" (Boughton). No copies of this present image appear to have been printed contemporaneously.

The recipient of this photograph was Una Pope-Hennessy (1876-1945), a historian, biographer, and close friend of Lady Augusta Gregory. Pope-Hennessy was a member of the Anglo-Irish aristocracy and shared an extensive correspondence with Yeats. In spring 1905 she contributed to John Masefield's appeal to "friends of Mr. W. B. Yeats and appreciators of his work" to contribute 1 towards the purchase of a Kelmscott Chaucer for the poet's birthday. In June 1906 Yeats mentioned her in a letter to his sister Lily, describing her as one of three "really rich people I know sufficiently well - or think I can get you to sew for for one reason or other" (Kelly, p. 410). This is a striking and uncommon photograph of Yeats.

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Platinum print (227 x 179 mm). Mounted and framed (380 x 437 mm).


Some minor spotting and surface marks, overall a superb example.


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