The sitter was born in New York City on May 17, 1839. He was the eldest son of three children born to Frederick Christian Havemeyer Jr. (1807-1891), and Sarah Louise (Henderson) Havemeyer (1812-1851). Having learned the sugar refining trade with his own relatives, his father started his own firm, Havemeyer & Elder sugar refiners in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in 1863. Young Theodore became an apprentice in his father’s firm and later was made a partner working with his brother Henry Osborne Havemeyer. After traveling to Germany and England in search of new advances in the sugar refining industry, Theodore constructed one of the most modern sugar refineries in the world on the waterfront in Brooklyn. The business expanded continually until 1907 and at one point the Havemeyer business owned five refineries, dominating the production of refined sugar in the USA.
He was Honorary Consul-General of Austria-Hungary for 25 years, a post he took after the death of his father-in-law. Founder of the Newport Country Club. He owned a house in Newport, Rhode Island, called Friedheim, a large farm at Mahwah, New Jersey, famous for its blooded cattle, and a residence in New York at Madison Avenue & 38th Street.
He died of influenza on April 26, 1897 at his home, 244 Madison Avenue in New York City, after being baptised a Roman Catholic — his wife’s faith — five hours earlier. He died intestate, but left four million dollars.
Painted in 1896-97. The sitter was a member of the New York Chamber of Commerce from 1891 to 1897.
Probably the picture exhibited at the DURAND-RUEL GALLERIES, 389, Fifth Avenue, New York, March 1 – 15, 1897, though the New York Times, March 2, 1897, describes the portrait as a full-length.