TAYLOR, Mrs. Russell McDonnell (Anna Virginia Clarke Keely)

Three-quarter length seated, oil on canvas 50” x 40”, signed and dated centre right ‘A. Muller Ury 1926’.

Mrs. Russell McDonnell Taylor; her son Charles Clarke Keely; his youngest daughter Ann Keely (Mrs. Robert M. Matthiessen, 1937-2014)) of Pasadena, then San Marino and latterly Bishop, California; by descent.

Private Collection, California, USA.

Los Angeles Times, in April or May 1926 (reproduced).

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The sitter was born in Illinois on August 16, 1877. She married Canadian real estate and subsequently insurance broker Russell McDonnell Taylor (born 1881, Chatham [Township], Canada, died Los Angeles 21 July 1936), which was her second marriage, as in the 1920 Census a child is listed named Charles Clarke Keely (born 24 December 1902) whose father was a physician born in Pennsylvania.  According to the Los Angeles Times 28 May 1933, Charles Clarke Keely (whom Muller-Ury also painted) married Miss Beatrice Sargeant of Denver, Colorado, on 30 June 1933.  They had two grandsons, one of the same name was born in Los Angeles in 1934, and a daughter Ann in 1937. On 28 April 1935, at 5pm, Mrs Taylor tragically shot herself in the head with a revolver her motives being depression and unspecified illness. Mrs Taylor was a friend of Mrs. Edward Doheny.

Painted in Los Angeles where the sitter lived at 11 Berkeley Square, a traditional Georgian colonial style house by architect Myron Hunt with a double gallery facing north in Charleston style. Berkeley Square was a private road with gates at each end which was later demolished to make way for a Los Angeles freeway.

An anonymous cutting in the artist’s papers describes the picture thus: ‘…It is a spirited picture, a woman’s face and figure summoned there as by the light, the color and the robust line of her own personality. Moreover it is a portrait of the gracious hostess well-known in the social and artistic world of Los Angeles.’

The artist mentions this picture in his diary for June 12, 1932:

San Marino, Sunday. I go to my great friend Dr Raffael Herman to have lunch and enjoy some hours in good company. After I saw Mr & Mrs Russell Taylor who was very proud of the portrait I made and said that one of these days this portrait would also be worth $100,000…

The photograph in the artist’s papers was taken by M. L. Bailey, 1314 South Hill Street, Los Angeles.

The editor is grateful to art historian Jeanette Gabriel for assistance with this entry.