Daguerreotype portrait of Poe

Daguerreotype portrait of Poe, The Richard Gimbel Collection, Rare Book Department, Free Library of Philadelphia 1848

On November 5, 1848, Poe tried to commit suicide by drinking laudanum, an opiate. He became delirious but vomited the mixture. Four days later he sat for a portrait, of which this is a copy. Whitman dubbed this — the most famous of all Poe images — “Ultima Thule” (a geographer’s term for a place beyond the known world), reflecting the extremity of his state.