The sitter was born on 10 January in San Francisco to Elias Jackson “Lucky” Baldwin and Jennie Dexter Baldwin. She died in Arcadia, California, at her residence, “Anoakia”, on 26 October 1939.
The commission to paint Mrs Baldwin was arranged by a Mr. Chilton through Sir Joseph Duveen in 1927. Letters in the Getty Research Institute, Research Library, Los Angeles, Duveen Archive 960015, Box 381, indicate the progress of the commission, which the artist undertook in his San Marino studio. In a letter to the artist dated February 11, 1927, John Allen, Financial Comptroller of the Duveen firm, wrote, after discussing other matters:
‘Sir Joseph enquires whether you secured the order from Mrs. Baldwin for portrait, and was it a good price? He hopes it was.’
The artist replied to his friend Duveen on February 19, 1927 (the letter is dated 1926, but this is clearly a slip) saying that,
‘Mrs. Baldwin has not sett (sic) yet for me nor made definite arrangements for the portrait but she will do so some time next week. She desire to rest from the tiresome sitting she hat (sic) for the bust. I have seen Lejeune once and requested him to let me know when he finished sitting & come to see me.’
This was a reference to the eighty-four year old Belgian sculptor Alphonse Lejeune who had been in San Francisco since 1908, and was now briefly in Los Angeles. He had hoped to make a bust of Henry Huntington but this was not forthcoming as Huntington was ill. On February 25, 1927 Muller-Ury wrote again to Duveen:
I just send you a few lines to let you know that I began to paint Mrs. Anita Baldwin portrait last Monday & Tuesday, but the weather was so dark & rainy for few days that I could not paint more, but next monday the 27th I will continue the work. The price arranged for the full length portrait is $10.000 but as she wanted only a 3/4 I will arrange later a reduction. But being she such exceptional good subject I thought it would be better to paint a full length one & show what I could do, even if I wont be paid for it, dont you think so? I am perfectly enchanted with this marvellous sweet & sad personality & I will do something exceptional indeed. — Mr Schilton (sic) is so kind in every way & I wonder if it is better to ask him later what commission he gets or paint some of his family as compensation for his trouble? I certainly appreciate deeply your usual wonderful consideration in arranging for this order & I will show what I can do indeed.’
Duveen responded on March 4, 1927 saying:
‘…I am delighted to hear that you succeeded in getting the commission to paint a portrait of Mrs. Baldwin. I am sure from what you tell me that you have a very sweet subject and feel quite sure you will do your usual ample justice to it, and it should result in bringing you more commissions.
I scarcely know how to advise you about Mr. Chilton. He is a very good fellow and perhaps might be flattered at the idea of your painting one of his family as some little return for his trouble. On the other hand, he may prefer to have a commission, so you had better ask him.’
In a long and chatty six page letter to Duveen on April 17, 1927 the artist told him what he had briefly stated in a telegram on April 5, that Huntington had visited his studio, where Muller-Ury had just completed the portrait of his grand-daughter, Mary Brockway Metcalf:
‘He was delighted with Miss Metcalf’s portrait & had not the least sugestion (sic) to make as he thought to be perfect — He was very enthusiastic with Mrs. Baldwin portrait, wich (sic) is nearly finished — Mr. Schilton (sic) & Mrs Baldwin are more than pleased.’
After the picture was received by the Arboretum in 1971 it must have been decided that the picture was not worth displaying and so it was covered in a tarpaulin and placed upstairs in an outhouse in the grounds behind a cupboard. In 2008, the present editor convinced Dana Dunn, the curator of the Ruth and Charles Gilb Arcadia Historical Museum where the Lejeune bust was displayed, to try to find the picture which he believed was still probably on the property, and so it proved with the help of Susan C. Eubank, the Librarian of the Arboretum.
The duotone photograph in the artist’s papers is stamped ‘Keystone Photo Service, 1231 South Olive Street, Los Angeles, Cal.’