534
534
Clemens, Samuel L.
Estimate
5,0007,000
LOT SOLD. 5,313 USD
JUMP TO LOT
534
Clemens, Samuel L.
Estimate
5,0007,000
LOT SOLD. 5,313 USD
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

THE JAMES S. COPLEY LIBRARY: ARTS & SCIENCES, INCLUDING THE MARK TWAIN COLLECTION

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New York

Clemens, Samuel L.
Autograph letter signed ("S. L. Clemens"), 2 pages bifolium (6 7/8 x 4 1/2 in.; 175 x 114 mm) on Clemens's Riverdale stationery, Riverdale, New York, 12 December 1902, to a Miss Mullen, calling a photographic portrait of him by Sarony a "libel" and preferring another taken at the time of Woodrow Wilson's inauguration as president of Princeton. Together with: a matte gelatin silver print half-length portrait of Clemens in cap and gown by Rose & Son, Princeton, New Jersey, within a decorative frame printed on grey card, ca. October 1902; small chip to lower left corner, card evidently removed from a mount.
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Catalogue Note

A flattered Clemens thanks an admirerer, possibly from Missouri,  for having been "so remembered & so honored in my old home; & I thank you, & beg that you will thank the class for me. " Miss Mullen apparently requested a portrait of Clemens, to which he expresses distaste for one recently taken by the famed New York photograph Sarony on the occasion of his sixty-seventh birthday: That same old portrait! this time it is 'Mark Twain at 67. ... I have seen that caricature in the four quarters of the globe — it is the one always used — &  have duly blackguarded it. ... Sarony made it & 16 others, & it was the worst negative int he lot. I never stopped damning him until he died & went into more competent hands."  

While Sarony's work pleased the eyes of the world, not all of his photos of Clemens were met with his approval. When Clemens was honored by Harper and Brothers on his sixty-seventh birthday in 1902, a book was compiled for those in attendance. The frontispiece for the slim volume was a Sarony portrait of Clemens. Six years later, in his personal copy of the book, Clemens recorded how he really felt about the photo: "Of course they would frontispiece it with this damned old libel, which began as a libel when Sarony made it, in my fortieth year — since which time it has been used all over the world in preference to any later & better picture." The photograph would have been taken in 1875.  Clemens obligingly will forward a more recent portrait taken in cap and gown on the occasion of Woodrow Wilson's inauguration as president of Princeton University in October 1902.  He opines that the photograph "may be good, it may be bad, but anyway it will be better than that Sarony libel." Accompanying the letter is a copy of the portrait by Rose and Son of Princeton, which is inscribed "Truly yours | Mark Twain." 

THE JAMES S. COPLEY LIBRARY: ARTS & SCIENCES, INCLUDING THE MARK TWAIN COLLECTION

|
New York