"A portrait is a picture in which there is just a tiny little something not quite right about the mouth." -- John Singer Sargent

Friday, June 24, 2016

Bret Harte

This 1884 portrait of Bret Harte by John Pettie hangs in the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC.
"Through his short stories and essays, Bret Harte presented many Americans with their first taste of the society that the California gold rush had produced. In stories such as 'The Luck of Roaring Camp' and 'The Outcasts of Poker Flat,' Harte brought to life a colorful assortment of gamblers, miners, and other adventurers who, like him, had settled in California. Returning east in 1871, he found himself lionized as the West's signature writer. But Harte never felt any real kinship with the crude world he portrayed, and his later western stories paled in comparison to the crisply narrated tales that made him a celebrity. By 1878 Harte was sailing for Europe, where even his lesser works continued to find an appreciative audience. There he remained for the rest of his life, grinding out hackneyed variations of his original themes and settings." -- National Portrait Gallery

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