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Edna St. Vincent Millay

William Zorach, 28 Feb 1887 - Nov 1966
Edna St. Vincent Millay, 22 Feb 1892 - 19 Oct 1950
c. 1923
Ink, charcoal and colored pencil on paper
Image: 57.2 x 38.1 cm. (22 1/2 x 15")
Sheet: 61.6 x 47.2 cm. (24 1/4 x 18 1/2")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution
Object number
Exhibition Label
Born Rockland, Maine
Poet Edna St. Vincent Millay personified the rebellious spirit of the 1920s, both in her work and in her bohemian lifestyle. After graduating from Vassar in 1917—the same year she published her first volume of verse—Millay became part of the artists’ community in New York’s Greenwich Village. In what is her most often-quoted quatrain, she summarized her existence there: "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 worked in traditional verse forms and took as her main theme the integrity of the individual spirit. In 1923, she was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for her Ballad of the Harp-Weaver.
This portrait by her friend William Zorach appeared in Century magazine shortly afterward, in June 1923, accompanying a laudatory article.
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
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National Portrait Gallery Collection