Tour of Exhibition Portrait Index Catalog and Traveling Exhibition
Edna St. Vincent Millay 1892–1950
William Zorach's 1923 portrait of Edna St. Vincent Millay for Century magazine accompanied a laudatory article by Carl Van Doren on her poetry, which had just earned her the Pulitzer Prize. Zorach met Millay when both were working with the Provincetown Players in Greenwich Village. He depicts Millay's tiny frame and hands, her lovely features, and pensive, intelligent gaze. Through the subtly provocative opening of her loose jacket, he hints at her independent spirit and her charismatic personality. Others described her in similar terms—a pale, tiny girl with bright-red bobbed hair and sea-green eyes who dominated her surroundings.

One of the most widely read poets of her generation and an ardent feminist, Millay wrote of her adventures in poems published in 1920 as A Few Figs from Thistles. One of the verses for which Millay was most famous, "First Fig," was in this collection:
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!

William Zorach (1887–1966)
Ink, charcoal, and colored pencil on paper, circa 1923
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
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