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Edna St. Vincent Millay

Artist:
Charles Ellis, 1892 - 1976
Sitter:
Edna St. Vincent Millay, 22 Feb 1892 - 19 Oct 1950
Medium:
Oil on canvas
Dimensions:
Frame: 98.7 x 85.7 x 7.9cm (38 7/8 x 33 3/4 x 3 1/8")
Type:
Painting
Date:
1934
Topic:
Printed Material\Book
Home Furnishings\Furniture\Seating\Chair\Armchair
Home Furnishings\Furniture\Bookcase
Interior\Library
Edna St. Vincent Millay: Literature\Writer\Poet
Edna St. Vincent Millay: Performing Arts\Performer\Actor\Theater
Edna St. Vincent Millay: Literature\Writer\Playwright
Edna St. Vincent Millay: Literature\Writer\Letter writer
Edna St. Vincent Millay: Pulitzer Prize
Portrait
Credit Line:
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of the artist and Mrs. Norma Millay Ellis
Object number:
NPG.68.15
Exhibition Label:
Born Rockland, Maine
Literarily and temperamentally precocious, the poet Edna St. Vincent Millay exemplified the spirit of the "Roaring Twenties" and the emancipation of American women. She started writing as a child and became a rebellious student at Vassar College. In 1917 she moved to Greenwich Village, the center of avant-garde and rebel culture. She won the Pulitzer Prize for The Harp-Weaver in 1923. Poetically, Millay was a romantic, inspired by the ecstatic visions of John Keats and William Wordsworth; her first notable poem "Renascence" (1912) spoke of a nature that "breathed my soul back into me." Her famous quatrain "First Fig" (1920) celebrates abandonment:
My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light.
Millay’s romanticism was at odds with literary modernism, and her reputation has declined. However, during the 1920s she exemplified the age that she did so much to define.
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Data Source:
National Portrait Gallery
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