I discuss Jim Brothersâ€™ monument of Mark Twain, and how we placed it in Hartford, CT, in the book. Itâ€™s a pretty good story. In a nutshell, some scheming Missouri businessman tried to â€œcommissionâ€ the piece, meaning the guy wanted it for nearly nothin. The deal fell through. I began representing Jim at that time, presented the piece to the City of Hartford, and in 1994 they bought itâ€“although for far less than what Jim gets now.
Why did I take the lesser price? You know why: I desperately needed to place one of Jimâ€™s monuments in a national venue, even if we had to do it for less than we wanted. Using this as a springboard, I was able to exponentially increase his prices over time, until eventually he could command the fees he wanted. If we hadnâ€™t placed that first piece in so prominent a location, this would have been much more difficult to achieve.Â At the same time, if we hadn’t promoted him so extensively, his prices never would have risen, and we’d still be giving his skill away.Â
When youâ€™re starting out, you will likely deal with much the same thing. The point is, later on you must be bold enough to ask what youâ€™re worth, once you establish what that is. Youâ€™ve paid your dues already; no need to go on paying them.
By the way, why did we placeÂ the monumentÂ in Hartford? Twain built and lived in a mansion there for 25 years. That structure is now the Mark Twain House & Museum. Sure Twain was from Missouri, and most people associate him with this state, but the truth is he got the heck out of Hannibal the first chance he could.
The noteworthy thing about this monument? Itâ€™s all in the face. Twainâ€™s life, like that of most artists, was an emotional roller coaster. His mood swings were enormous, and his last years were plagued with depression, despair and bitterness. His middle years were the happiest of his life, but after his bankruptcy, the loss of two children to disease, and eventual estrangement from one of his daughters, he was never able to regain his former vigor. This shows in the face, which Jim sculpted flawlessly, and faithfully, showing the realÂ artist rather than the myth. And when it comes to history, I am not particularly interested in myths.Â
This is why I feel Jimâ€™s â€œTwainâ€ is the best yet sculpted. Am I biased? Of course.
Final note: the twist in the torso is borrowed from Michelangelo’s David; nothing like an immortal reference.