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Odd Naturalist

December 2023
1min read

Peggy Robbins’s article “The Oddest of Characters” on Constantine Rafinesque (June/July 1985) summed up the life of the man sensitively and delightfully. At Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky, where his bones are entombed, Rafinesque is an enigma, and therefore intriguing. He has become a part of campus tradition and rumor. Regrettably it was here that his belongings were cast out into a hallway and he was asked to leave the campus. Today his eccentric genius would be welcomed.

The portrait which you somewhat tentatively identify as Rafinesque is a reproduction of an enamel miniature painted by William Birch (1735–1834). It was purchased by Transylvania University in 1938 and definitely is Rafinesque’s likeness.

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