Art: U.S. ALBUM/Thomas Eakins

FOR the past half century, the U.S. has taken more and more seriously the cult of youthfulness. Walt Whitman, the 19th century's great poet, was too realistic for any cult, best celebrated old age in this breath-taking line:

Old age, calm, expanded, broad with the haughty breadth of the universe.

This month the Baltimore Museum of Art will celebrate its 25th year with a big loan show devoted to paintings of and by the aged. Among its masterpieces will be Thomas Eakins' portrait of Walt Whitman (opposite), painted when the poet was 68.

"Eakins," Whitman once opined, "is not a painter, he is a...

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