Marcella Sembrich was born Prakseda Marcelina Kochańska in Austrian Galicia (today the Ukraine) on February 15, 1858. She was essentially a Polish coloratura soprano. Her father was Kasimir Kochanski, but she adopted her mother’s maiden name. Her début was in Athens in 1877. She made her first appearance at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York on October 24, 1883 as Lucia di Lammermoor. She worked in New York in 1883, and 1898-1909 (except one season) and, in total, she sang more than 450 Met performances in her 11 seasons there, and remained associated with the company until 1909, when the silver jubilee of her Met debut was celebrated with a farewell gala and she retired from the operatic stage. She retired from the concert stage in 1916. She was a director of the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia 1924 – 1935, and at the Juilliard Graduate School of Music in New York. She was a pioneer of the song recital without opera arias. The outbreak of World War I had made it impossible for the diva to return to the European Alps during the summers, and Sembrich turned instead to the Adirondack Mountains and spent summers at Lake Placid from 1915 to 1921, and then at a home on Lake George from 1922 to 1934. She died in Manhattan on January 11, 1935.
The precise description given by the syndicated newspapers would suggest that Muller-Ury was painting her in evening clothes.