It was described in Town & Country, December 12, 1906 as follows: ‘Little Miss Hollister, with cherry-ripe lips and sweet trusting eyes, holds her dollie, and after all she has been the belle of this portrait show. It is one of the best portraits of the “littlest girls” that Mr. Ury has done.’ Oil on canvas, 29.5 x 23.25 inches, signed lower right.
Private Collection, Texas.
By family descent.
M. KNOEDLER & CO., 355, Fifth Avenue, New York, December 3 – 16, 1906, No. 5 as ‘Miss Hollister’.
New York Herald, December 5, 1906
New York Herald, December 8, 1906
Town & Country, December 12, 1906
Vogue, Vol 34, Issue 11, Sept 11, 1909 pp.315-316 (reproduced as ‘Baby Hollister’ p. 316)
The sitter (1903-1983) was the three years old youngest daughter of Mr. George Trowbridge Hollister (died 9th January 1929) and Mrs. Rosemary Hanks Hollister (presumably relatives of Dr. & Mrs. F. K. Hollister who owned a house at East Hampton Long Island which was to be completed in 1908 by Albro & Lindeberg). George Trowbridge made and lost several fortunes at a time before the stockmarket was regulated. The second time he invested money with an Australian adventuress who absconded with his investment, something his wife never forgave him when she was compelled to give up their Park Avenue apartment for a New York walk-up.
This portrait seems to be in a style emulating Sir Joshua Reynolds’ famous picture ‘The Age of Innocence’.
Vogue, Vol 34, Issue
11, Sept 11, 1909 pp.315-316 and 345 in its article on ‘The Portraiture of
Children’ reproduced this picture but with a sharp criticism of the artist in
the final paragraph of the article, p. 345:
‘Of A. Muller-Ury as a child portrait painter one should not wax too enthusiastic. It is evident that while he gives to us, on canvas, a pleasing presentation of the very young person and seems to enjoy the effort, there are many surface signs that a child appeals to him in the same way that a brass bowl or a bit of beautiful cloisonné might appeal – to the eye alone. One does not feel that the painter cares one jot more for a beautiful baby than he does for a beautiful sunset or a beautiful vase. It is the common fault of your average painter; he leaves one admiring but chilled; he permits himself to be seduced by pretty surfaces and hypnotized by planes of color. In many technically perfect pictures one almost hears the cry for breath of life. A good picture is only a masterpiece when it is vitalized, humanized and stripped of its mummy wrappings of conventionality.’
It was in 1916, when they lived at 930 Park Avenue, that Mrs Hollister gave a reception in honour of her debutante middle daughter Katharine Alling Hollister (New York Times, 3 December 1916). Miss Hollister became engaged in May 1917 to Lieutenant Truman Smith, Fourth Regiment of Infantry. He was the son of Mrs Edmund D. Smith of Stamford, Connecticut (New York Times, 30 May 1917). They were married at Kalmia, the country home of her parents at Greenport, LI in July 1917. The eldest daughter, Dorothy Trowbridge Hollister became engaged to Lieutenant Thomas Leffler Horn, U.S.N.A. of Phillipsburg, Penn in December 1917 (New York Times, 15 December, 1917).
I am grateful to Katharine T. Coley of Middletown CT, for assistance with this entry.