Painted in 1931. The sitter lived in Beverly Hills at 704, North Bedford (Drive). On Sunday, August 6, 1931 the sitter’s husband wrote the following letter (artist’s papers):
‘My dear Mr. Ury:
We received your note mailed before you left and appreciate very much for taking care of the frame. I am enclosing check to cover same.
Everyone who has seen the portrait thinks it is by far the finest piece of work done in recent years and many are of the opinion that it is a finer piece of work than any on exhibit in the Huntington Gallery. Of course, Mrs. Bell and I concur with the latter class.
We both hope you had a pleasant trip over and are already looking forward to your return.
With kindest regards, I am,
Sincerely, John W. F. Bell.’
The sitter’s husband apparently went bankrupt in 1932, and the bailiffs took everything they had, although the Bells managed to save the portrait. The artist recorded this in his diary for 16 February 1932, ‘I hear that Mr. J. Bell had everything confiscated but the portrait of his wife was saved.’ Muller-Ury may never have been paid for his work and he wrote in his diary on February 20, 1932 that his friend Lawrence Newman of 320 Waverly Drive, Pasadena – to whom the artist had given a still life of roses in a green vase over Christmas 1931/32 – was very sympathetic because he had chosen when to be paid for his work. The Los Angeles Times 25 February 1932 describes Mr. Bell as a capitalist and actor.
The duotone photograph in the artist’s papers is stamped ‘Keystone Photo Service, 1231 South Olive Street, Los Angeles, Calif.’