(EDGAR ALLAN POE) (1809-1849) Sixth-plate tintype of the American poet and writer Edgar Allan Poe, which was taken a few weeks before Poe's death, after a daguerreotype by William A. Pratt. In a leather case. 1849-late 1850s
Estimate $10,000 - 15,000
Acquired Hank Ford, New Hampshire; to a Private Collector, in the 1970s.
Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849), who was born in Boston, was a prolific poet, writer of short stories, and essayist whose reputation is as an enduring master of the macabre. His lifelong obsession with horror--crime, drugs, premature burial, mourning, the reanimation of the dead--position him as an anomalous historic figure whose brilliance often eluded his Victorian contemporaries.
Poe earned his living as a writer and became widely known as a critic, but he achieved notoriety and fame with his seminal poem "The Raven" which made him a household name. Despite his copious output, he lived in poverty, briefly matriculating through the Army and West Point, working successfully but itinerantly, marrying his young cousin, and dying mysteriously in Baltimore. Imagined today as a morose, Gothic figure, the writer (whose family roots were in Baltimore and Richmond) was apparently quite genteel, charismatic, and generous, but also somewhat sensitive, bitter, and occasionally outrageous. Poe spent the last three years of his life in a picturesque cottage, in the Bronx. This small wooden farmhouse, a pastoral setting, was where he penned many of his most well-known poetical works, including "Annabel Lee," "The Bells," and "The Cask of Amontillado."
Throughout Poe's short life he sat for many photographic portraits. The image offered here is a tintype after the so-called "Traylor" daguerreotype, owned originally by Poe's first fiancée Mrs. Sarah Elmira Shelton (née Royster, whom he reconnected with prior to his death). The daguerreotype was made in the troubled last weeks of Poe's life by William A. Pratt in Richmond, Virginia, and the tintype was produced a few years later. Poe's visage is grave and poetic. His penetrating, deep-set eyes, dark hair, black-clad, somewhat disheveled dress, and now haggard features seem to portend his premature and lonely death just three weeks later.
Gewirtz, Edgar Allan Poe: Terror of the Soul (New York Public Library).
Deas, The Portraits and Daguerreotypes of Edgar Allan Poe (University of Virginia).