I have received an inquiry from Niamh O'Sullivan, at the National College of
Art and Design in Dublin, about Twain and Ireland and, more specifically,
about a painting of Huckleberry Finn by Aloysius O'Kelly, and about Twain's
relationship with O'Kelly. All I know to tell her is that Twain indeed was
in Ireland for two weeks from late August to early September 1873. Does
anybody know more, from particulars about the painting to more general
things about Twain and Ireland? Here is her query:
Various owners have alleged that Aloysius O'Kelly was either privately
commissioned by Clemens or that he executed this painting of Huckleberry
Finn as a gift to the author. It has also been suggested that O'Kelly lived
near Mark Twain (possibly in Maine) and that he was asked to read the proofs
of _Huckleberry Finn_.
The painting--oil on canvas, signed Al. O'Kelly--has been owned by: Samuel
Langhorne Clemens c. 1885; Clara Clemens; Ossip Gabrilowitsch; Joseph
Connelly (gift, 1931/32); Private Collector (Boston 1981); David Dufoure
(1989); Jordan Volpe Gallery, NY; Private Collection, Belfast.
When Twain first saw the illustration commissioned of Edward Kemble for the
figure of Huckleberry Finn, he complained that it was "a triffle more Irishy
than necessary" (letter to Charles Webster, 7 May 1884). What is known of
his views about the Irish?
According to _The Irish Booklover_, "while on a visit to Ireland mark Twain
visited and dined with the late Andrew Clements (sic) of Ligonnel and a
cousin of his, the late Hugh Stormont of Ballymather" (Aug.-Sept. 1917, nos.
1-2, vol 9, p. 13). When did Twain visit Ireland? Did he have views on
Ireland? Is there correspondence concerning his visit to Ireland?