by Benjamin Robert Haydon
pen and ink, 1816
12 1/2 in. x 8 in. (318 mm x 203 mm)
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- John Keats (1795-1821), Poet. Sitter in 15 portraits, Artist associated with 2 portraits.
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- Benjamin Robert Haydon (1786-1846), History painter and diarist. Artist associated with 34 portraits, Sitter in 10 portraits.
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John Keats was introduced to Benjamin Robert Haydon in 1816 when the poet was still a medical student and virtually unknown. Theirs was an immediate and intense friendship which lasted until Keats's death in 1821. Haydon, who nurtured ambitions of becoming a great history painter, made these sketches of the poet's profile for possible inclusion in his large scale work, Christ's Triumphant Entry into Jerusalem. They were drawn on the back of pages from the artist's diary during an evening the friends spent together in November 1816. The inscription along the bottom in praise of Keats was added by Haydon after the poet's death. The lines, including those deleted, read, 'Keats was a spirit that in passing over the Earth came within its attraction (and fell on it, against its will! and spent like a....bird, he worried himself) and expired in fruitless struggles (to regain his former height) to make its dull inhabitants comprehend the beauty of his soarings'. The inscription along the bottom in praise of Keats was added by Haydon after the poet's death.