WHITMAN, Olive (Later Mrs John J. Parsons)

Portrait sketch of head and shoulders, wearing a frilled white baby-cap, tied with a huge satin bow under the chin. Oil on canvas, 24.1/4” x 20” (61.6 x 50.8 cms), signed and dated lower left ‘Muller-Ury, 1913’.

The Preservation Society of Newport County, Newport, Rhode Island 02840.

Gift of the Sitter, 1994

M. KNOEDLER & CO., 556-558, Fifth Avenue, New York, March 31 – April 12, 1913, No. 12.

New York Herald, April 2, 1913
American Art News, April 5, 1913
Brooklyn Eagle, April 6, 1913
New York Times, April 6, 1913
New Yorker Staats Zeitung, April 6, 1913

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The sitter (born 1910) was the infant daughter of District Attorney Charles S. Whitman, and the portrait was described as ‘…a charming conception of a baby’s smile’ by the New York Herald (April 2, 1913). It seems that after it was exhibited Muller-Ury gave the portrait to the Whitmans, for a letter in the artist’s papers, dated April 21, 1913 and written from the Attorney-General’s office, reads as follows:

‘My dear Mr. Muller-Ury:-
Please find enclosed my check for $50.00, in payment for the frame. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your kindness and generosity, and assure you that no other present could possibly be so acceptable in our household as the beautiful portrait of our little girl.
Mrs Whitman and I shall never cease to feel grateful to you for the gift.
With kind regards, I am
Most cordially yours,
Charles S. Whitman.’

Another letter (same source) written from 969, Park Avenue, New York, and dated merely ‘Sunday’, is from his wife:

‘My dear Mr. Muller-Ury –
Please forgive me for not writing you a week ago about the charming picture you were so very kind as to send me – I have been away in Boston and upon my return found your wonderful surprise waiting me – I can’t begin to tell you how delighted both Mr. Whitman and I both are with your picture – and we are just proud of it, as we can be.

Hoping very much that I may have the pleasure of thanking you in person I am
Yours very sincerely,
Adelaide Whitman.’