Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass”: The Unpublished Art of Maynard Dixon

May 31 marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of one of the foremost poets in American literature, Walt Whitman. To celebrate, Special Collections is exhibiting one of its most unique items from our Walt Whitman Collection: a suite of tempera paintings by Maynard Dixon, which were intended to illustrate a never-published edition of Whitman’s poetry collection, Leaves of Grass.

Dixon (1875-1946) created these illustrations between 1929 and 1933. He was living in San Francscio at the time and may have been encouraged in the project by the distinguished fine press printers Edwin and Robert Grabhorn, who were working on their own edition of the book around the same period (the Grabhorn edition, which they considered one of their finest works, can also be found in Special Collections). The Dixon Leaves of Grass collection consists of 18 pieces, including seven tempera paintings measuring approximately 6 x 9 inches, and eleven smaller drawings in tempera and ink. Eight of these are on display in the small case exhibit on display in the Special Collections Reference area this month.


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