Half-length seated before a landscape, wearing a hat and fur piece, and holding a pair of gloves. Oil on canvas, 33.1/2” x 25.1/2” (84.1 x 63.8 cm) signed lower left ‘A. Muller Ury.’
The Poetry Collection of the University Libraries, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York.
Charles D. Abbott, A Selection of Books & Manuscripts in the Lockwood Memorial Library of the University of Buffalo, Privately Printed by Richard W. Ellis, New York, 1935 (illustrated facing p.1).
Painted posthumously in March and April 1934 for the Lockwood Memorial Library, which the sitter and her husband gave to the University. Her husband was a lawyer (February 7, 1873 – August 19, 1947) who was amongst other things a Trustee of the Erie County Savings Bank. He married Marian Birge firstly and after her death in 1933, on November 20, 1934, he married Mildred Frances McGuire. They lived at 844 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo 9, New York.
According to the artist’s diary, Thomas Lockwood called on Muller-Ury at his studio at 33, West 67th Street, New York, on March 23, 1934:
‘March 23, 1934. v. Mr. Lockwood di Buffalo viene vedermi per lasciar fare ritratto sua moglie — che mori un anno fa — pare che non vuole pagar molto in questi tempi ma voglio far questo lavoro perchi vorrebbe ritratto suo padre piu tardi’
Clearly Mr. Lockwood was not willing to pay what the 72 year-old artist had hoped for the work, but suggested he might want him to paint the portrait of his father Daniel N. Lockwood, this being, presumably, conditional upon the success of the posthumous portrait. It may also have been a lawyer’s way of keeping the cost down without committing himself further.
‘March 25, 1934. dom. dopo chiesa penso a cio che potrer fare del quadro di Mrs. Lockwood di Buffalo.’
‘March 30, 1934. Venerdi Santo — lavoro a Mrs Lockwood — ed il lavoro pare riescira bene.’
‘March 31, 1934. NY sabato. lavoro a Mrs. Lockwood.’
‘April 2, 1934. lun. NY. dipingo a Mrs Lockwood e Mrs Stillman mi presta il bel bonetto verde per tale quadro.’
This entry says that his great friend Mrs. Walter Stillman, the daughter of Dallas Bache Pratt, who he had painted as Miss Constance Pratt in late 1904, and twice more subsequently, lent him a pretty green hat to include in the picture.
‘April 3, 1934. mart. NY. Continuo con amore il ritratto di Mrs. Lockwood di Buffalo e voglio forzarmi di fare bel lavoro.’
‘April 4, 1934. merc. NY. da Mrs. Lindley pranzai e mi presto la pele riccia (Russa) (Sable) per il collo sul ritratto di Mrs. Lockwood, avendo nella photographia tale oggetto al collo — tutti mi agutano un poco onde fare un successo.’
This entry says that he borrowed from his friend Mrs. Lindley (a daughter of the late railroad financier James J. Hill) a sable collar to include in the portrait.
‘April 5, 1934. NY. giovedi. lavoro a Mrs Lockwood — e tutto va discretamente bene con tante dificolta che ho non avendo niente di questa signora per il ritratto.’
‘April 6, 1934. NY. venerdi. Al ritratto di Mrs. Lockwood continuo a fare il manteletto — con uno giallo bruno da Mrs. H. O. Havemeyer — ma devo far cio verde come il bonetto.’
In these two entries the artist laments he has no clothes from the subject to include in the portrait, and that he works on a yellow brown coat belonging to the wife of his friend Henry O. Havemeyer (Charlotte Whiting) which he is instead painting the same green as the hat.
‘April 7, 1934. sab. NY. continuo il lavoro a Mrs Lockwood e non posso andare alla campagna perche deve fare bene questo lavoro, e cosi si deve sacrificare un poco il piacere.’
‘April 8, 1934. NY. dom. dopo messa dipingo a Mrs Lockwood.’
‘April 9, 1934. NY. lun. Continuo il lavoro di Mrs. Lockwood e cerco finire ed armonizare tutto il quadro, perche e difficile con tanti combinazioni che mai pensavo.’
‘April 10 1934. mart. NY. oggi messi diverse rose (Talisman) nel quadro di Mrs Lockwood e pure cambia il touno del fondo facendolo piu transparente (e con terra sienna) piu caldo e cosi armonizare con la pelliccia.’
‘April 11, 1934. merc. NY. dipingo a fondo Mrs. Lockwood di Buffalo.’
Presumably the picture was finished and Mr. Lockwood informed, but the artist heard nothing and recorded in his diary for May 7, 1934: ‘Non sentir da Lockwood e sono sorpreso.’ However, on May 12, 1934 the artist recorded jubilantly that Lockwood had been delighted with the picture:
‘Mr. Thomas Lockwood di Buffalo viene a vedere il ritratto di sua moglie finito — e non solo desira nessun un cambiamento lo trova piu perfetto che natura — e non ha parole basta per esprimere la sua sadisfazione ed entusiastmo. Vuol dare questo ritratto all’Universita di Buffalo ove lui da la libreria con tutti i libri di valore che possede. — Tale successo mai aspettava!’
On May 21, 1934 the artist recorded that he had despatched the picture to Mr. Lockwood and that he was very happy that it belonged to a man who appreciated his artistry. Three days later he received a check from Lockwood for $2500, with a note saying that he hoped his friends will like the picture as much as he does. The artist added that in the autumn ‘…il ritratto sara messo nella libreria che Mr. Lockwood da all’Universita di Buffalo – e cosi tante gente vedrami tale lavoro.’
The sitter was the daughter of Mrs. George K. BIRGE whom Muller-Ury previously painted in 1924. It is not known if Muller-Ury later painted Lockwood’s father.
The duotone photograph in the artist’s papers bears on the verso the stamp of photographer Murray K. Keyes, New York.