Full-length standing portrait of a little girl dressed in a white, lace-edged dress, with ruched upper-bodice tied at the shoulder and waist with wide pink satin ribbons, wearing a hat with pink feather; she holds a straw basket of flowers in her right hand and puts her left hand into it; a rose has fallen on the carpet at her feet. Oil on canvas, 75.3/4″ x 46″ (192.4 x 116.8 cm). Signed and dated upper right ‘A. Lombardi Muller 1885’. A circular tag on the reverse says ‘Gift, 10/28/24, Manton’.
The Newark Museum, Newark, New Jersey (Inv: 24.2550, red paint on stretcher and lower left on frame).
Gift of Colonel L.W. Manton, 1924.
The form of the signature has led to the belief that the portrait is not by Muller-Ury. For some time the signature was believed to be ‘A. Lambert Muller’, a misreading of an early form the artist used of his real name – A. Muller-Lombardi. No other examples of pictures with this form of the signature are known at present. For many years the portrait has been called simply ‘Portrait of a Young Girl’ or ‘Girl in Pink’.
The picture can be dated to January 1885 by two drawings stuck in a sketchbook from 1885 (Private Collection), one of which is dated lower right ’15 gen(naio) 85′ [January 15, 1885]. The portrait must have been commissioned at the end of 1884, and is therefore one of the earliest known examples of the artist’s work in America. However, the drawing is annotated in Muller-Ury’s hand ‘Miss F. Dougherty’, but this may be because Mrs. E. J. Dougherty’s mother was Mrs. Leopold Brandeis (soon to move in with her daughter and son-in-law at 122 Columbia Heights in Brooklyn (see Brooklyn Daily Eagle, February 9, 1896).
Mr. Leopold Brandeis, a plumbers merchant (who ‘died yesterday at Oceanville, LI of a stroke of paralysis’, according to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Saturday May 28, 1892), lived in a ‘handsome residence at Warren and Henry Streets and was a constant attendant and one of the pillars of the Roman Catholic Church. He was a great admirer and warm friend of the late Father Fransioli and contributed largely to the charities of the parish.’ He was married to Mrs. Giulia Brandeis (died 1911) and they appear to have had three children.
A son, Louis or Ludwig (whom he took into his business but then died – but his wife Fannie M. Brandeis sued his parents in 1887 for slander of $50,000 after his father and mother, who had gone abroad for his father’s health and come back and apparently found the business in debt – see Brooklyn Union, Saturday March 26, 1887), and three daughters: Mrs. D. M. Hildreth (see Brooklyn Daily Eagle, February 9, 1896, p. 11), Maria C. C. Brandeis, who died at Yonkers in her 73rd year on December 2, 1932 according to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, December 4, 1932 (she never married), and Henrietta G. Brandeis who married Edward J. Dougherty (he died in 1924), and they had a daughter called Henrietta J Dougherty who married Leon Manton in 1909. The Brooklyn Blue Book and Long Island Society Register 1910 (1909) shows that the Dougherty family and Mrs. Giulia Brandeis had all moved from 122 Columbia Heights Brooklyn to 67 Upper Mountain Ave., Montclair, N.J.
The museum files state that the donor lived at 63, Prospect Avenue, Montclair, New Jersey, in 1924, but that by 1930 he had moved to Bridgeport, Connecticut. The portrait was restored between September and November 15, 1945 by Robert Moore of 301, North Mountain Avenue, Montclair, Connecticut.
Edward J. Dougherty, husband of Henrietta G. Dougherty (née Brandeis) died on Wednesday, September 10, 1924 at 162 Upper Mountain Avenue, Montclair, New Jersey. In 1948 Colonel and Mrs Leon W. Manton had moved to 1125 Park Avenue, New York.
In October 1945 Mrs. Beatrice Winser of the Newark Museum wrote to Muller-Ury asking him to sign a form allowing photographs and reproductions to be made of the picture. He signed the form on October 20, 1945 appending the following note:
‘Dear Secretary Beatrice Winser.
I like to state that I don’t know at present, not having seen the picture mentioned, when and where I painted the picture you mention and if you want further information of myself you can find them in Who’s Who.
Mrs. Winser sent him a photograph of the portrait, presumably having discovered the sitter’s identity, and on November 20, 1945, the artist sent her a card which reads:
‘My dear Mrs. Winser
I regretted that I gave you so much trouble regarding the portrait of Miss Brandeis of Brooklyn, N.Y. which I painted in my early days when I came to this country 1899 (sic). The portrait you sended (sic) me is very welcome and I will be pleased to place same in my books as an agreeable souvenir. Someday when I find the time I want [to] come over to the Newark Museum to see the painting and be very happy to meet you.
May be you find the time to come and see the work I do now and [I] would be delighted to see you, even if you bring some of your friends that might want to see the variety of picture I paint and specially my roses from my garden in California.
Yours sincerely, A. Muller-Ury.’