William Ordway Partridge created numerous idealized portraits of famous writers, musicians, and artists. He used his own experience as a writer and poet to model sensitive images of the artists, often portraying them deep in thought. In this portrait the English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792−1822) is shown with a downward gaze and slightly tilted head. His dreamy expression evokes a sense of introspection, as if he is away in a world of his own.
“Eternal Soul of man, how strong to save!
How strong to live, outlasting death’s great pain!
Remembering Shelley’s triumph, we grow brave
To barter life itself for surer gain-
Since joy beyond all vision rent the night,
When that swift spirit melted into light.”
From the poem “Shelley” by William Partridge, Archives of American Art
Bust of Percy Bysshe Shelly
- n.d., copyrighted 1899
- 23 1⁄4 x 13 x 10 1⁄2 in. (59.1 x 33.0 x 26.8 cm.)
- Credit Line
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Gift of Mrs. William Ordway Partridge
- Mediums Description
- Occupation – writer – poet
- Portrait male – Shelley, Percy B. – bust
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