A group of 5 autograph letters, one autograph fragment, and one typesecript letter from Clemens to sculptor Karl Gerhardt and his wife.
Autograph letter initialed ("SLC"), 6 pages, Elmira, 31 August 1881, to Mr. and Mrs. Gerhardt, congratulates him on his success in an art exhibit, reports that Augustus St. Gaudens was impressed with his work and wanted to see more, counsels him not to waste time or energy worrying about the future; early repair to fold separation on first leaf, rust stain from paper clip on last leaf. — Autograph letter initialed ("SLC"), 3 pages, [Hartford], 25 January 1883, to Karl and Josephine, approves of Italian project and asks for 6–8 weeks to set up their next letter of credit; browned and stained, upper left corner of second leaf clipped. — Autograph letter initialed ("SLC"), 5 pages in pencil, [Hartford], 5 March 1884, to "My Dear G's," regrets that their infant daughter Olivia was sick, discusses the Gerhards' finances; rust stains from paper clips. Typed letter signed in type ("S.L. Clemens"), 2 pages, Hartford, 26 March 1883, to the Gerhardts, congratulations on his success in placing seventh in the Concours, advises sending the medallions of himself, his mother-in-law and Charles Dudley Warner through the American Exchange; browned, short tears and creasing along top margin of first leaf. — Autograph fragment initialed ("SLC"), n.p., n.d., reports that Jean is recuperating from diphtheria and that Mrs. Clemens "is fleshing up steadily"; marginal browning. — Autograph letter signed ("SL Clemens"), 6 pages on memo notepaper with holograph envelope, Elmira, 5 July 1885, to Karl, at the Hotel Balmoral, Mount McGregor, New York, mentioning 4th of July fireworks at Quarry Farm and the photographs Gerhardt had taken of U. S. Grant. — Autograph letter initialed ("SLC"), Hartford, 7 October 1886, to Karl, quotes 4 proverbs and suggests Gerhardt sculpt an "Injun—a real Injun"; left margins discolored from a guard.
Patron of the Arts. Clemens met the self-taught sculptor in early 1881 in Hartford where Gerhardt was employed as chief mechanic at the Pratt and Whitney Machine Tool Company, a company that was working to perfect the Paige typesetter—an invention in which Clemens would later invest a fortune and lose it. Professional artists such as St. Gaudens were impressed by Gerhardt's raw talent and suggested that Gerhardt receive training in Paris. Clemens subsidized the Gerhardts' stay in Paris where Karl studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts for three years.
"Build the edifice of your future to-day, brick by brick ... to try to glimpse the future roof will cost you a brick, every time, & delay the said roof by just that much." The 31 August letter is brimming with warm, paternal advice: "You said something, I think, about the uncertainty of your & your wife's future. .. Put it clear out of your minds. It isn't healthy. One can't forecast his future ... Every time one wastes a thought on the future he misses a trick in the present. ... I can't bother over the probable fate of the book I am writing, without burning up time & intellectual fuel which should have gone to the improving of the book itself ... Therefore build the edifice of your future to-day, brick by brick ..." Then Clemens mentions the example of his hapless brother Orion who is even unluckier in business affairs than Clemens: "[M]y brother has devoted all of the 56 years of his life to trying to fix up his future satisfactorily. Well, now, don't you know, by the time he gets it fixed up just right, there won't be any of it left? [H]e is the worst failure that ever lived. Brim full of talent, too. "
Gerhardt and Grant. Through Clemens's good offices, Gerhardt obtained the right to cast Ulysses S. Grant's death mask. In anticipation of being on hand when General Grant's death came, Gerhardt traveled from his home in Mt. Vernon, New York, to Mt. McGregor (near Saratoga) where Grant was spending his final days. Writing Clemens letters from the Hotel Balmoral at Mt. McGregor, Gerhardt provided a first-hand account of the Grant family's affairs during the final month of Grant's life. Gerhardt also took several photos of Grant in his final days. In the 5 July letter, Clemens writes: "I can see those photographs yet, as distinctly as if they were before me. they will be an eloquent remembrancer for ages, of this great tragedy that is slowly passing before the sympathetic eyes of two watching worlds. Gerhardt received permission from Grant's son Jesse to produce a final sculpture of the General. Clemens closes the letter by telling Gerhardt that he will be spending some time in New York City, and will let Grant's son Jesse know in advance.
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