Described in the Baltimore American , January 22, 1892, as ‘life-size, and represents the Cardinal in a sitting posture in an armchair. The pose is very life-like, the artist having caught the spirit of the prelate’s face perfectly. The attitude which the Cardinal is represented as having assumed is natural and easy, and one which is a favourite with the subject of the painting. The Cardinal’s gray eye presents that concentration of thought which should, and does mark, one so high in ecclesiastical authority. The colouring is quiet and true to nature, the modelling and the play of light and shade admirable, and the drapery treated with true artistic feeling, and without any unpleasant struggling for cheap effect.’
Seated, facing to right, grasping the left arm of the chair, a book in his right hand. Oil on canvas, 42” x 32” (exposed surface), signed and dated lower left ‘A. Müller Ury 1892.’
Catholic University of America, 620 Michigan Avenue N.E., Washington D.C. 20064.
The New York Daily News of February 6, 1892 stated that this was the gift of Mrs. Theodore Havemeyer (see below).
Exhibited in the Artist’s Studio at 58, West 57th Street, New York, January 12 & 13, 1892.
Evening Post, Baltimore?, January 16, 1892
Evening News, Baltimore, January 21, 1892
Baltimore American and Commercial Advertiser, Friday, January 22, 1892
New York Tribune, January 25, 1892
New York Tribune, February 1, 1892
New York Daily News, February 6, 1892
Der Bund, Bern, Switzerland, Monday/Tuesday, 8/9 February, 1892
Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Switzerland, February 10, 1892
Die Ostschweiz, St. Gallen, Switzerland, February 11, 1892
The Tablet: The International Catholic News Weekly, February 27, 1892, p. 24
James Gibbons, the first American Cardinal, was nominated to this position by Pope Leo XIII on June 30 1886, had been created Archbishop of Baltimore on October 3 1877.
Bibliography of sitter:
James Gibbons (Archbishop of Baltimore), A Retrospect of 50 Years, 1916.
Allen Sinclair Will, Life of Cardinal Gibbons, 1922.
According to the Baltimore American of Friday, January 22, 1892, Muller-Ury put the finishing touches on the portrait “yesterday”. John Tracy Ellis in his 1952 biography of Gibbons writes as follows: ‘In 1892 Gibbons sat for Adolfo Muller-Ury and this picture is now in the parlors of Caldwell Hall at the Catholic University of America.’ (Vol. 2, p. 623, note 12)
‘Collections and Recollections in the Life and Times of Cardinal Gibbons’, written and edited by John Reily (between 1890 and 1905) has this statement:
‘1892, Jan. 22 — A life-size picture of Cardinal Gibbons, by Mr. Miller (sic) Uri (sic), the New York artist, has been completed for the Catholic University. It is thus described: The Cardinal is represented in a sitting posture in an armchair. The pose is very life-like, the artist having caught the spirit of the prelate’s face perfectly. The attititude which the Cardinal is represented as having assumed is natural and easy. The coloring is quiet and true to nature, the modeling and play of light and shade admirable, and the drapery treated with true artistic feeling.’ (Vol. 2, part 2, pp. 796-797).
Muller-Ury painted him twice soon after his election to the Cardinalate (the first belonged to Archbishop Corrigan of New York, and the second huge picture is lost), and this was certainly his first important commission since he arrived in the United States the previous year. The biography in the handlist of the exhibition at FRENCH & CO. INC., 1947, states that it was this commission that brought the artist to America, but this is untrue.