©The Art Institute of Chicago
Not long after MT traveled east from San Francisco to Europe and the Holy Land, "Elaine" traveled west, from Germany to San Francisco. The painting was the work of an ex-patriate Californian named Toby E. Rosenthal, who had been commissioned by a San Francisco banker to paint a passage from Tennyson's Idylls. Rosenthal chose to depict Elaine's corpse being carried to Camelot clasping the letter about her love for Launcelot. The painting was first exhibited in Germany, where favorable reviews prepared Americans to receive it enthusiastically. It was exhibited in San Francisco in April, 1875, where over 8000 people paid 25 cents each to see it. Before the enthusiasm died down, a number of Elaine clubs had been formed, an Elaine waltz had been written, and someone had even thought of selling "Elaine cigars." In one of the notes MT made in his journal while he was writing Connecticut Yankee, he considered timing Hank's first appearance in Camelot to coincide with the arrival of Elaine's body and the "mute boatsman."