The Mark Twain Papers & Project - Exhibit - Mark Twain Takes on Art - The House Beautiful: Mark Twain and "Emmeline"</font></b></CENTER> <p>

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The House Beautiful: Mark Twain and "Emmeline"

In Huckleberry Finn and again in Life on the Mississippi, Mark Twain drew on his own boyhood memories to describe the "artistic" décor of a mid-nineteenth-century parlor in a typical home of the Mississippi River Valley. Watercolors and "crayons"—often of a sentimental or mournful subject and usually executed by the young ladies of the household—were common to these parlors. Huck Finn examines with interest such sketches by Emmeline Grangerford, the deceased daughter of the feud-embroiled Grangerford clan. Emmeline's last and greatest work was rendered by Edward Windsor Kemble, the young cartoonist whom Mark Twain selected to illustrate Huckleberry Finn. Huck gravely analyzed the sketch:

It was a picture of a young woman in a long white gown, standing on the rail of a bridge all ready to jump off, with her hair all down her back, and looking up to the moon, with the tears running down her face, and she had two arms folded across her breast, and two arms stretched out in front, and two more reaching up towards the moon—and the idea was, to see which pair would look best and then scratch out all the other arms; but as I was saying, [Emmeline] died before she got her mind made up, and now they kept this picture over the head of the bed in her room, and every time her birthday come they hung flowers on it. Other times it was hid with a little curtain. The young woman in the picture had a kind of a nice sweet face, but there was so many arms it made her look too spidery, seemed to me.
                                                                        (from Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, chapter 17)
The Mark Twain Project's new edition of Huckleberry
Finn
, including all the original illustrations, was published
in June 2001 by the University of California Press.
Mark Twain took a substantial interest in the decoration of his own "house beautiful" in Hartford, Connecticut. He hired Tiffany and Company to paper and hand stencil the walls and ceilings, and he filled the rooms with furniture and objets d'art brought home from Europe. Among the Clemenses' Italian purchases was an impressionistic watercolor of a young girl, painted by Daniele Ranzoni, which found a place on the library mantel and was dubbed "Emmeline" by the author of Huckleberry Finn.
Spidery woman


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