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Special Feature

I am indebted to Andy Penaluna of Swansea, Wales for providing this newspaper clipping.

Rockford, Illinois REGISTER, Wednesday, April 29, 1885

How McEntee Drew Mark Twain in Three Minutes

Will McEntee, the air-brush artist, is in the city, and in a conversation the other day related the circumstances attending the execution of Mark Twain's portrait at the banquet of the Clover Club in Philadelphia. The Rockford artist played his game fine and won for himself and the air-brush commendations innumerable. It was a swell occasion, many of the celebrities of pen, brush, and stage being present. The elaborate table was arranged in the shape of a four-leafed clover and spread with all the delicacies of the season. In those circumstances the genial artist shone, waxed fat and enjoyed himself. Directly opposite Mac sat the world-famed humorist, Samuel Clemens, better known as "Mark Twain." The notables present commenced responding to the toasts proposed. A number of sentiments were disposed of and Mac realized that his turn would doubtless come, and he commenced his plans. He calculated that he would in all probability be called upon to give an exhibition of the working of the air-brush. Further he concluded that Mark Twain, one of the most widely known gentlemen present, would doubtless be suggested as a proper individual to make the subject of the sketch. So Mac commenced coaching up.

It so happened that the man of the funny pen was seated directly opposite the artist. During all the time that the others were speaking McEntee was carefully studying the features of Twain. He took him in under every shade, polish and expression. For an hour or more the young artist sat there and studied Twain's features until they were absolutely fixed in his mind. He could have turned his back to the humorist and yet have his every feature before his mental vision as distinctly as the vision of his own mother was there lodged.

And sure enough his calculations were not amiss. In due season the master of ceremonies called upon the young artist for an exhibition of his work. Mark Twain was mentioned as a proper subject, and the Rockfordite was as happy as a lord. He composedly arose, armed himself with his remarkable instrument, and prepared a surprise party for the distinguished assemblage. Casually and with apparent carelessness he glanced at his subject, gave him a critical and penetrating glance or two, and turned to his canvas. With a flourish, both graceful and effective in its work he handled the paint distributor, rapidly the portrait grew, wondering banqueters thronged about the painters and with admiration plainly pictured on their features, watched the unmistakable outlines of their distinguished guest come out upon the canvas. At the end of three minutes Mac had completed a splendid portrait of Clemens. The guest were loud in their praise and plaudits were rained upon his skill from all present. Edwin Booth, the famous actor, was present and then and there gave his special order for a portrait of himself. The next day McEntee was on the train with Twain and heard him relate to friends how the remarkable little machine turned out a perfect portrait of him in three minutes, the artist hardly looking at him. Mac played the affair fine, and certainly with great success and much fame.

McEntee portrait

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