In a letter in the artist’s papers, is a letter dated March 8, 1903 from the sitter’s husband written from 13, West 76th Street, New York, as follows:
‘My dear Mr. Muller-Ury
Enclosed please find check for $1130.- of which $1000.- are in payment for the portrait of Mrs. Stehli; and $130.- for Knoedler & Co. in payment for the frame.
I find the portrait really beautiful and like it more and more all the time.
Thanking you for the kind interest you took in painting it I remain always your friend
E. J. Stehli’
The letter was written by Emil Jacob Stehli (born July 25, 1868 in Zurich, Switzerland, who died in New York, May 21, 1945 aged 76). He was the son of Emil Stehli, the founder of E. Stehli-Hausheer & Sohn, silk manufacturers, in New York and Switzerland. A biography of Stehli was written by Henry Emil Stehli: Emil J. Stehli, 1868-1945: A Short Account of His Career (published privately, 1947). He was an avid collector of old master paintings and his collection included works by many French 18th Century masters such as Boucher, Pater, Watteau, Lancret, Nattier, Greuze and Vigée-Lebrun.
He was the husband of Marguerite Jennet Stehli (née Zweifel) who was born in Brixton, London, on May 19, 1874 and who died in Summerville, South Carolina on February 4, 1959 aged 84.
The Stehli family were related by marriage to the Frölicher and Hammer families, so it may be supposed that it was Muller-Ury’s previous connections with the family in Switzerland at the start of his career which persuaded Emil Stehli to commission a portrait of his wife.
Emil Stehli’s brother-in-law, Maximilian Josef Frölicher (1851-1913), and his wife Margaretha (“Gritli”) Emerentia Stehli (née Frölicher) and their daughter Hedwig were amongst the survivors of the Titanic disaster in April 1912.