Half-length, standing, aged 29 as Secretary of State of New York, 1863. Oil on canvas, 48 x 38 ins, signed lower left ‘A. Muller-Ury’.
New York State Museum, Albany (1966-2-11).
New York Department of State; gift to the New York State Museum 1966.
New York Press, November 23, 1900
New York Herald, November 23, 1900
New York World, November 28, 1900
The Argus, Albany, New York, November 29, 1900
New York Tribune, November, 30, 1900
William A. Eardley, Chronology and Ancestry of Chauncey M. Depew with Fifty-four affiliated families of New York, New Jersey and New England, Privately Printed, New York, 1918, (reproduced p.18)
(There are two cuttings in the artist’s papers which reproduce the picture, but unfortunately they are not labelled.)
The sitter was a United States Senator, President and Board Chairman of the New York Central Railroad, and notable Public Speaker. Son of Isaac Depew (d. 1869), shipowner and merchant, and Martha Mitchell Depew (d. 1872). Graduated Yale University in 1856, he was admitted to the bar in 1858. Served in the New York state legislature and elected New York’s secretary of state in 1863. Depew joined the New York Central Railroad in 1866 at the invitation of ‘Commodore’ Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794-1877), advancing to the presidency in 1885. In 1899, at the age of sixty-five, he embarked on a twelve-year tenure in the United States Senate, but, until the end of his life, remained Chairman of the Board of the New York Central. In 1871 Depew married Elsie A. Hegeman (died 1893), with whom he had one son, Chauncey M. Depew, Jr. (1872-1931). He married secondly May Palmer (d. 1940) in 1901; they had no children. A leading business and political figure Depew was considered the most distinguished public speaker in America; in 1886 he delivered the principal address at the dedication of the Statue of Liberty; six years later he was chosen to speak at the laying of the cornerstone of Grant’s Tomb; and, in 1892 he presented the dedicatory oration at the Chicago World’s Fair. At the age of ninety-one, in 1925, his annual birthday speech was broadcast on the radio. He was known of “the most recognized living American, with the exception of the President of the United States.” Depew died in St. Augustine, Florida, aged 94 on April 5, 1928 of bronchial pneumonia. He had signed his will on January 26, 1928, prior to his departure.
Bibliography of sitter:
William A. Eardley, Chronology and Ancestry of Chauncey M. Depew with Fifty-four affiliated families of New York, New Jersey and New England, Privately Printed, New York, 1918
Chauncey M. Depew, My Memories of Eighty Years, New York, 1924.
This half-length portrait was painted in 1900 from a photograph of Depew at the age of twenty-nine, and was intended for the New York State Capitol at Albany. The idea was to show Depew as he would have looked when he was working there.