- 1 Heritage and early life in Switzerland
- 2 Training in Switzerland, Munich, Rome and Paris
- 3 Early career
- 4 Painter of prominent people
- 5 Assessment of his pre-1925 work
- 6 Painter of roses and still lifes
- 7 Californian sojourn
- 8 Last years and death
- 9 Exhibitions
- 10 Collections
- 11 Related artist
- 12 Notes
- 13 References
- 14 External links
Heritage and early life in Switzerland
He was born Felice Adolfo Müller on March 29, 1862 at Airolo, in the Ticino in Switzerland, into a prominent patrician family whose lineage descended from Alfred the Great, Charlemagne, and Doge Pietro Orseolo of Venice, through the von Rechburg family (a lady from which family married a Müller) and by the 18th and 19th centuries included mercenaries, lawyers, hoteliers and businessmen. His father was lawyer Carl Alois Müller (1825–1887), Gerichtspräsident (Presiding Judge) of the Cantonal Courts, and his mother Genovefa Lombardi (1836–1920), daughter of Felice Lombardi who was Director of the Hospice on the St Gotthard Pass, which he took over from the Capuchin monks who had run it for centuries. Adolfo was their sixth of nineteen children, most of whom survived infancy. The family spoke Airolese mainly, a local dialect of Ticinese Italian, as well as Swiss-German. His family was Roman Catholic.
Training in Switzerland, Munich, Rome and Paris
After attending the municipal drawing school in the Ticino, and school in Sarnen he was encouraged by the sculptor Vincenzo Vela (1820–1891) and possibly the Commendatore Metalli-Stresa (a family friend), to study oil painting under the local painter of religious pictures in a Nazarene-style, Melchior Paul von Deschwanden in Stans in Switzerland (who died in Adolfo's arms in February 1881). On 25 April 1881 he entered the Munich Academy (Register No: 3945) where he stayed 18 months, studying with Professors Alexander Strähuber (1814–82), Alois Gabl (1845–1893), Gyula Benczur (1844–1920), and possibly Karl von Piloty; on the same day, a fellow Swiss called Adalbert Baggenstos (1863-1897), who originated from Stans, also registered at the Munich Academy. In later years he always claimed to have studied at the École des Beaux-Arts, Paris, under Alexandre Cabanel in 1884, but this is uncertain, though the Archives Nationales in Paris indicate he applied to use the library, the usual means, at that date, of seeking a master. Between Munich and Paris he spent nearly two years (1882–84) in Rome, studying and copying Old Masters, apparently at the instigation of the distinguished Ticinese-born artist Antonio Ciseri (1821-1891), and where he apparently painted portraits of Cardinals Joseph Hergenröther and Gustav Adolf Hohenlohe who were acquaintances of his uncle Josef, a Domherr in Chur, Switzerland. It is sometimes alleged he painted Pope Leo XIII at this time.
His known early work is necessarily varied, and includes pictures in the style of Deschwanden (usually signed Müller, Adolfo), academic drawings executed in Munich (usually signed Ad. Müller), copies of Old Masters, and early independent oils, sometimes was influenced by artist's like Robert Zünd (1827–1909) and Frank Buchser (1828–1890) which includes landscapes, genre and religious pictures. Many of these survive in the ancestral home of the Müllers in Hospental, Switzerland, and with surviving members of his family in the St Gotthard and elsewhere.
Whilst in Paris in late 1884 he decided to visit America. He arrived first in Milwaukee, and then visited Chicago and St Paul, Minnesota where he had relatives. In 1885 he went to Baltimore to paint Cardinal James Gibbons for the first time and in 1886 completed a full-length portrait which was given to the Cardinal for his residence after being exhibited at Schaus's Gallery in New York (missing). At around this time he was travelling all over the eastern United States painting and executed a very large canvas of the Bushkill Falls in Pennsylvania (Von der Heydt Museum, Wuppertal, Germany). Luckily for the artist, his talent for portraiture was soon noticed by the St. Paul railroad builder James J. Hill, who was to commission or acquire many pictures of himself, his family, his friends and business associates, like the Canadian missionary Father Albert Lacombe in 1895, and John Stewart Kennedy the financier in 1901.
In the Newark Museum, New Jersey is a portrait of a little girl dressed in pink called Miss Brandeis which is probably his first commissioned picture made in America (it is signed with a variation of his family name, A. Lombardi-Muller), though a portrait of Father Joseph Fransioli, who was minister to the large influx of Italian-speaking immigrants arriving in New York, today at the Brooklyn Historical Society, was possibly completed before this as it is signed Adolph Muller. It would seem that from quite early on he wanted to sign his works in a way that was unique to him, and so portraits between 1886 and 1889 are sometimes signed F. Adolphus Muller, A. Muller-Uri, or Muller d'Uri. By 1890 this was fully anglicized as A. Muller-Ury, the umlaut in his surname being dropped. Some of his later smaller works are signed A M Ury. (It should be noted that as late as 1932, the Swiss-American Historical Society published a book on Swiss-Americans where his name was inaccurately stated as Adolph Felix Muller-Uri.) In 1889 he painted a portrait of John R. Brady a New York Judge which was apparently presented to the American Bar Association. He may have travelled in North Africa in the summer of 1889 after visiting the Exposition Universelle as he dated a Portrait of a North African man with a Gun (previously known as Portrait of an Arab; Private Collection, London) that year and exhibited a picture called In the Dark Continent at the National Academy of Design in New York at the end of that year (No. 105; lost). In 1890 he completed a second bust-length portrait of the Ticinese-born Father Joseph Fransioli of Brooklyn (lost).
His New York studio 1885-1904 was in the Sherwood Studio Building, 58 West 57th Street and 6th Avenue (the building has been long demolished), where he is noted before 1889 in Room C; by 1894 he had a studio with a waiting room (both lit by windows) and a bedroom. Other artists who rented studios in the building in the 1880s were his friend from Munich Jan Chełmiński (who later married the sister of art dealer Roland Knoedler), the landscape painter Robert W. Van Boskerck, James Carroll Beckwith, painter and muralist Edwin Howland Blashfield, and painter turned critic Arthur Hoeber, and later artists like Carle Blenner and fellow portraitist George Burroughs Torrey. He was photographed in his Sherwood studio by artist turned photographer Edwin Scott Bennett (1847-1915) which was exhibited at the annual exhibition of the Society of Amateur Photographers of New York in 1894.
For a number of years he commuted between New York and Europe, but after the great success of his portraits of Senator Chauncey M. Depew in 1890 (Yale Club of New York City) and Mrs Theodore Havemeyer in 1891 (now the property of the Preservation Society of Newport County, Rhode Island), in 1892 he applied for American citizenship. It was apparently at this date that he met the young art dealer Joseph Duveen, who was to become a close friend, and after 1891 that he began to be dubbed 'Painter to the Four Hundred', referring the élite of New York society in whose circles he socialized. He was much aided by the Havemeyers, and also by Louis Benziger (1840-1896), of the Roman Catholic publishers Benziger Brothers, who persuaded many New Yorkers to sit to him; he remained friendly with his son Bruno Benziger until his death, and indeed Bruno Benziger organized the artist's burial.
For three years in the late 1890s he leased one of the studios in Pembroke Studios in Kensington, London, where he certainly painted portraits of Donald Smith, 1st Baron Strathcona and Mount Royal, and Lord Mount Stephen who were business associates of James J. Hill, of whom he made an etching in London in 1898 which was distributed to Hill's family and colleagues. According to a letter he wrote to Hill he started the portrait of María Consuelo Iznaga Clemens, the 8th Duchess of Manchester, in London in 1898, but it is not known if it was ever completed.
In 1903 he was one of a group of artists who invested in a new studio building, the Atelier Building, 33 West 67th Street. Muller-Ury lived in the top floor right studio, and incorporated a stained glass panel of the Müller coat-of-arms into the window (removed in 1947 and now at the Haus Müller in Hospental, Switzerland). The floors were all inlaid with borders of intarsia, and the smaller windows given mullions. The main studio, facing north, has a huge fireplace, a balcony—leading to his private quarters—from which the artist hung Persian rugs, and on the walls he hung Gobelin tapestries and copies of pictures by Velasquez that he copied in Madrid in 1911 and 1913. He had a library where sitters could wait, and a dining room. He moved into the studio in 1904 and remained there until 1947.
Painter of prominent people
His reputation remains based on his portraits of prominent personages in Europe and America.
- Emperor William II (1909, at the New Palace, Potsdam) given to Columbia University's Deutsches Haus by the Neue-Yorker Staats Zeitung who commissioned it, but missing since the 1960s; the bust-length oil sketch is now at the Max-Planck Institute in Berlin.
- President William McKinley seated in 1899 (lost), the standing version (1900, redated 1901) is now at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington
- General Ulysses S. Grant (1897) since 1899 at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington (a fine head study was in a Private Collection in New York until 1975)
- Varina Howell (Mrs Jefferson Davis) in 1895 (Beauvoir, Biloxi, Mississippi) and her daughter Winnie Davis in 1897–98 (Museum of the Confederacy, Richmond, Virginia, gift of the artist 1918)
- Theodore Roosevelt (Collection of Edmund Morris)
- Edith Galt (Mrs Woodrow Wilson) (a wedding present from Colonel Edward M. House, 1916) now at the White House
- Mrs Edward M. House
- President Wilson delivering his "war speech" before Congress on April 3, 1917 (at the League of Nations in Geneva, the gift of Lord Duveen in 1935), and a smaller portrait painted at the same time was given by the artist in 1943 to Mrs Cordell Hull for the Woodrow Wilson Birthplace Foundation in Staunton, Virginia
- President Benjamin Harrison's granddaughter Mary Lodge McKee Reisinger (Private Collection, Philadelphia)
Several Swiss politicians who became Presidents:
- Louis Ruchonnet (Musée des Beaux-Arts, Lausanne)
- Bernhard Hammer
- Giuseppe Motta, a three-quarter seated portrait, in 1938 for the authorities in Bellinzona (now in the Archivio Cantonale, Bellinzona), as well as a half-length portrait in 1939 which is now in the Adolfo Müller-Ury Stiftung, Hospental.
He also painted the first permanent diplomatic representative of Switzerland in the United Kingdom, then Swiss Minister in London, Dr Charles Daniel Bourcart of Basel (now at the Swiss Embassy in London).
The Roman Catholic Hierarchy:
- Francesco Satolli (Cardinal Satolli) first Papal Nuncio in the United States (three-quarter seated, 1893)
- Pope Pius X in 1907 (Pontifical North American College, Rome) which was a commission from Mrs Anne Weightman Walker of Philadelphia, again in 1908 (St Joseph's Seminary, Yonkers) and in 1911 (Catholic University of America, Washington) all three-quarters seated; also a number of smaller head and shoulder portraits painted in these years
- Papal Secretary of State Cardinal Rafael Merry del Val in 1907 (Historisches Museum von Uri, Altdorf)
- Archbishop Dr. Thomas F. Kennedy, 1907 (St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Overbrook, PA) and 1911 (Pontifical North American College, Rome)
- Monsignor Gaetano Bisleti
- Cardinal John Murphy Farley (1913)
- Désiré-Joseph Mercier (Cardinal Mercier) during his visit to the United States, often misleadingly stated to be at Catholic University at Washington but actually in Switzerland at the Stiftung Adolfo Müller-Ury in Hospental, Canton Uri
- Pope Benedict XV in 1920 (Catholic University of America, Washington) and at the Stiftung Adolfo Müller-Ury in Hospental, Canton Uri
- Monsignor Charles O'Hern, 1920 (Pontifical North American College, Rome)
- Pope Pius XI in 1923 for which he was made a Knight of St Gregory the Great (two versions, the bust-length at St Joseph's Seminary, Yonkers and Pontifical North American College, Rome; the standing version at the Historisches Museum von Uri, Altdorf [but dated later]), and full-length seated in 1930 for which he was raised to the title of Papal Count - this portrait was painted expressly to hang permanently in the Nuova Pinacoteca but is no longer in the Vatican storerooms
- Cardinal Patrick Joseph Hayes (1924, cut down, Cardinal's Residence, NYC)
- in 1930 he also painted his friend Cardinal Bonaventura Cerretti
Famous international opera singers:
- Emma Calvé (full-length, 1894, lost) and a vigorous pastel (Private Collection, London)
- Pol Plançon (1897), a commission from Emma Marcy Raymond the composer of the operettas Doretta and The Sheik
- Marcella Sembrich (1899, twice), both lost
- Lina Cavalieri (1907, Metropolitan Opera House, New York)
- Dame Nellie Melba(1908)
- Frances Alda (1910), lost
- Glacia Calla (Roy)
- Lillian Russell (1902)
- Margaret Illington (1906) at the time of her first marriage to the theatre manager Daniel Frohman.
Other sitters include:
- Benjamin Altman, department store owner and art collector (the portrait of Altman seated in his gallery with a vase on a table beside him was given to the Altman Foundation in 1913 but is now missing - a smaller portrait is in the New York State Museum at Albany)
- A. F. De Bernasconi Corti and his wife (a Swiss millionaire who had made a fortune in Buenos Aires).
- Stephen Birch President of the Kennecott Mining Co. (1911)
- Mrs. Hobart Chatfield-Taylor, daughter of Senator Farwell of Chicago, wife of popular novelist Hobart Chatfield-Taylor
- James Constable (two versions, three-quarter seated in the American Museum of Natural History, New York; a bust-length in the New York State Museum at Albany)
- Margaret French Cresson, the sculptress daughter of Daniel Chester French (1912, formerly at Chesterwood)
- Marcus Daly, the copper magnate (half-length, Mineral Museum, Montana Tech at the University of Montana, Butte)
- Senator Chauncey M. Depew many times and both of his wives (Mr. Depew was also etched)
- a full-length of Dorothy Duveen as a girl in 1914 and another bust-length at the time of her engagement in 1924 (both lost)
- Elizabeth Wharton Drexel (Mrs John Vinton Dahlgren) (Georgetown University, Washington DC)
- Mrs Louis Ehret and her son
- Mrs Karl Evans (1904, for her paternal grandmother Nancy Ganson - the sitter became famous later as Mabel Dodge Luhan, patron of the avant-garde and correspondent of Gertrude Stein)
- Charles Mather Ffoulke, manufacturer and collector of the Barberini tapestries
- Michael Friedsam, department store owner and art collector
- Commodore Elbridge Thomas Gerry (New York Yacht Club)
- Mrs James D. Goin, daughter of Samuel N. Pike, builder of Pike's Opera House, and sister of artist Alice Pike Barney
- Thomas Watt Gregory, US Attorney General (1917, Department of Justice, Washington)
- Marcus Alonzo Hanna (1902/3, Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland, Ohio)
- James J. Hill many times, the finest portrait of whom he painted in 1902 and was formerly in the collection of the New York Chamber of Commerce and now hangs at the offices of Credit Suisse First Boston in New York
- Mr David H. Hostetter, heir to Hostetter's Bitters and successful oilman, and later his wife Miriam (apparently in a Private Collection in Los Angeles)
- Charles F. Hoffman (Union Club, New York)
- Emily Key Hoffman, mother of fashion expert Diana Vreeland
- Charles Evans Hughes US Chief Justice (Michigan Historical Museum, Lansing)
- Elise Ladew, later Mrs William R. Grace, whose brother was gardener Harvey Ladew, friend of King Edward VIII (Private Collection, Ketchum, Idaho)
- Mrs Thomas B. Lockwood [posthumously 1934] and somewhat earlier her mother Mrs George K. Birge (both in Poetry/Rare Book Collection, State University of New York at Buffalo)
- William d'Alton Mann the editor of Town Topics (lost)
- William R. Merriam of St. Paul (Minnesota Historical Society)
- J. Pierpont Morgan some eight times from 1904 (all missing), and with his granddaughter Mabel Satterlee
- Mrs Frederick Neilson, mother of Mrs Reginald Vanderbilt (lost)
- Lewis Nixon, naval constructor - also a full-length of his son Stanhope Wood Nixon in Scottish costume
- Judge Morgan O'Brien (twice) and his daughter Madeleine O'Brien (later Mrs Stuart D. Preston, mother of art critic Stuart Preston of Paris and London, known as 'The Sergeant')
- Mrs Charles Oelrichs (Blanche de Loosey, sister of Mrs Theodore Havemeyer; lost)
- Lily Oelrichs, later Mrs Peter Martin and Duchess of Mecklenburg
- Oswald Ottendorfer of the Neue-Yorker Staats-Zeitung (twice)
- Jesse Maxwell Overton and his wife Sadie Williams Overton of Nashville, TN (1903)
- Judge Alton B. Parker (two versions)
- Madame Felipe Pardo Y Barreda, the wife of the Vice-President of Peru, with her daughter Ana (1917, lost)
- Alice Pfizer, daughter of Charles Pfizer Sr. and pharmaceuticals heiress, later Baroness Bachofen-Echt (Private Collection, London)
- Lulu Pfizer, daughter of Charles Pfizer Jr., and first wife of Major General Spencer Edmund Hollond CB, CMG, DSO
- the daughters of Dallas Bache Pratt (Katharine, later Mrs Lycurgus Winchester 1902, and Constance, later Mrs Walter Stillman 1904)
- George Lockhart Rives (1915, Columbia University)
- William Culver Roberts Jr. who had published the immensely popular The Boy’s Account of It: A Chronicle of Foreign Travel by an Eight-Year Old in 1909
- Cornelia Ruppert, of the New York brewing family, posthumously, the first wife of the conductor Nahan Franko
- Count Antoine Seilern alone, and with his two older brothers Charles and Oswald when children, their mother Antoinette, aunt Carola Woerishoffer and grandmother, Mrs Charles Woerishoffer
- Susan Steell, daughter of dramatist and writer Willis Steell and friend of Katharine Hepburn
- Natica Terry, later Countess Stanislas de Castellane, and her mother Madame Francesco Terry y Sanchez of the Château de Rochecotte, France (Private Collection, London)
- Mrs Benjamin Thaw (1915) and Alexander Blair Thaw (posthumously, 1918)
- Mr and Mrs William Scheide and Mr and Mrs John H. Scheide (apparently in Princeton, New Jersey)
- William Weightman (manufacturing chemist, posthumously) of Philadelphia, and his daughter Mrs Anne Walker (later Mrs Frederic Courtland Penfield) with her niece Mrs Richard Waln Meirs
- Mr and Mrs Henri P. Wertheim (lost)
- William Henry White (Lotos Club, New York)
- Miss Olive Whitman as a baby (Preservation Society, Newport) and her father Senator Charles S. Whitman (New York State Capitol at Albany)
- Captain Gilbert C. Wiltse, who raised the U.S. flag on Honolulu in January 1893
- Mrs Clark Williams (Williams College, MA)
- Lady Frederick Williams-Taylor (1917) of Montreal, grandmother of Depression-era debutante Brenda Frazier (lost)
Assessment of his pre-1925 work
Any assessment of Muller-Ury's evolving style from the time he arrived in New York in late 1884 until 1925 remains quite difficult due to the few examples of his brush that have survived or been displayed in museums and institutions in a good enough state of preservation, but essentially his early to mid-life career style is that of academic realism. The portrait of Father Joseph Fransioli in Brooklyn and Miss Brandeis in Newark technically reflect his Munich training, are highly coloured and set against dark backgrounds, but the positioning of the figures is tentative if not awkward. By the time he painted his first major portraits in the late 1880s his work had gained in confidence and power, and photographs of his works from the time he painted the portrait of Chauncey M. Depew in 1890 (now at The Yale Club in New York) to the time he painted J. Pierpoint Morgan in 1904, give some substance to the comment in the National Cyclopedia of American Biography (1896) that his portraits were 'after those of Velasquez, Rembrandt and Titian. His portraits are remarkable for their boldness and likeness to life'. They certainly reflected Gilded Age notions of grandeur, the portraits emulating old masters like Hals, Titian and Velasquez. However, many of the grand portraits he painted at this date seem to be lost. After 1901, particularly in his female portraiture, when a light, Anglo-French, and Georgian taste became fashionable, his portraits emulate Gainsborough, Reynolds, Hoppner and Romney, even some of the 18th century French masters, the palette lighter, frequently oval, and the poses sometimes derivative. From 1904 to 1914 he painted some of his most accomplished portraits, and this may be considered his most successful period. After World War I his pictures remain bold and lifelike, but no change was stylistically more drastic than that following his move to California in 1924–25, when an impressionistic technique, derived from Rembrandt and the French Impressionists, somewhat invaded his portrait work.
Painter of roses and still lifes
The first printed evidence currently known that Müller-Ury painted still-lifes is in an article in the Budget, Boston, dated August 2, 1896: ‘... Mr. Müller-Ury, the portrait painter, who has just returned from abroad, has taken an attractive studio in Everett street, Newport, the one occupied by Mr. Harper Pennington last season. Mr. Müller-Ury’s roses as well as his portraits are admired, and he is painting a huge basket of American Beauties for the Havemeyer villa.’ In a surviving photograph of the artist’s studio in the Sherwood taken in 1894 (a portrait of Monsignor Satolli is on the easel next to it) there is huge still life, and in a letter from his studio to James J. Hill dated 12 August 1895 (Hill Papers, St. Paul, MN) he says that he hopes that the 'flower peace [sic]' he sent to him 'will suit for the place intended for', further evidence that he had painted some still lifes before 1896.
After 1918 the style of his still lifes becomes more impressionistic, the technique more painterly and using a great deal of impasto, and usually depict roses in Chinese vases from the former collection of J. Pierpont Morgan that he copied at the galleries of Duveen Brothers in New York (Duveen's exhibited the Morgan collection in 1919) and elsewhere, and sometimes including depictions of other works of art like bronze or bisque statuettes, Chinese porcelain Buddhas, Italian Maiolica plates and so on. It is known he was an admirer of Claude Monet and others, as he told the German Kaiser - who hated the Impressionists - in 1909 that the impressionists had "done a great deal to awaken modern art."
The roses were claimed by the soprano Jessica Dragonette in her autobiography (1951) to be the varieties American Beauty (red), La France (pink), Belle of Portugal (pale pink), Claudius, Killarney (rose pink), and Boucher-Pierné, but there were others. Many of his impressionistic rose paintings were created after he moved to California.
In March 1922 he travelled with Sir Joseph Duveen (later Lord Duveen) to California for the first time, in order that Duveen could deliver to bibliophile and art collector Henry E. Huntington Gainsborough's famous picture The Blue Boy which Huntington had bought the previous year. Duveen had promised the artist that Huntington would commission a portrait of himself. He did not.
However, Müller-Ury liked California and after painting Archbishop Edward Joseph Hanna in San Francisco in 1923 decided the following year to erect a studio near Huntington's estate. The studio he built was at the corner of Monterey and Shenandoah Roads in San Marino (architect Carleton Winslow), in the fashionable Spanish style with a green tiled roof and in the studio an enormous north-facing window. He placed the Muller coat-of-arms on the east frontage, where it may be found today. The gardens were extensively planted with many varieties of roses including Radiance, Columbia, Rose Marie, Irish Charm, Imperial Potentate and American Beauty which he painted into his canvases depicting the Morgan porcelains begun in New York. Duveen built a bungalow next door to the artist on Shenandoah Road, but seems to have quickly sold it after the death of his client Henry E. Huntington in 1927.
It was in San Marino during the following years, that Muller-Ury executed portraits of the following sitters:
- Mary Brockway Metcalf, Huntington's granddaughter
- Henry Mauris Robinson, the diplomat
- Anita Baldwin (daughter of Lucky Baldwin of Arcadia, full-length, today at the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden)
- Maurice DeMond, founder of the Breakfast Club then in Griffiths Park
- Mrs Carrie Ada Lawless, wife of William J. Lawless, the Mayor of Sierra Madre 1928-1929 (today at the Sierre Madre Women's Club)
- President Rufus B. von KleinSmid (1931) of the University of Southern California (three-quarter length; deaccessioned by the university in the 1980s).
In 1926 he seems to have begun from a photograph a portrait of Henry E. Huntington standing (now at the Howard Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena) and a seated one (which was engraved by Witherspoon) as well as another smaller seated version which was acquired by John and Elizabeth Huntington Metcalf; his portrait of their daughter Mary Brockway Metcalf was for some years hanging in the lobby to the office of the Director of the Huntington Library.
In 1930 he painted the former Miss Gladys Quarré of San Francisco (then Mrs Frederick Peabody of Montecito, Santa Barbara); later she became known as Gladys Quarré Knapp, the socialite friend of many Hollywood actors like Basil Rathbone and Edward G. Robinson.
He also painted a large allegorical work entitled The Spirit of California a version of which was acquired by a prominent art collector called Fred Elbridge Keeler (lost).
He abandoned the studio for the last time on September 3, 1933, after which it was let to friends. The house was apparently used by the Red Cross during the Second World War. He sold it in January 1947 for about half its value because nobody was prepared at that time to buy a property where most rooms were comparatively small except for the enormous studio.
Last years and death
After his return from California he settled permanently back in his New York studio. In 1936 he travelled to Europe and he may have done so in 1937 and certainly in 1938 when he painted a large portrait of President Motta of Switzerland, for his home town of Bellinzona (Archivio Cantonale). In 1937 he painted a portrait of Ellen Dunlap Hopkins the aged founder of the New York School of Applied Design for Women which he presented to the School in 1938 (now in a private collection, Brooklyn). He painted Pope Pius XII in 1936 during his visit to the United States when still Cardinal Pacelli, only finishing the work in 1939 (by painting in the white robes after his election to the pontificate), and painted his friend Cardinal Francis Spellman of New York twice in 1940 (St Joseph's Seminary, Yonkers) one version being presented by Manhattan College to Fordham University in 1941 (who appear to have lost the work), and again in 1942; he also painted Archbishop Joseph Rummell of New Orleans (1943).
In 1940, he painted the then famous radio soprano Jessica Dragonette (Georgian Court College, New Jersey) and several times thereafter, his last portrait in 1946 depicting her bust-length in a gold fez. In 1941 he produced a portrait of her sister Rosalinda (always called Nadea) Loftus looking over her shoulder. He also painted Jessica's musical colleague Fred Mitchell, and several portraits of her friends and acquaintances.
In 1942, at the age of 80, he painted a three quarter length seated portrait of Mrs George H. Ingalls (née Katharine Davis Hinkle), whose late husband, a descendant of one of the founder families of America who had left Lincolnshire in 1628, had been a Vice-President of the New York Central Railroad.
Müller-Ury died, apparently of cancer, on July 6, 1947 at the Lenox Hill Hospital, New York and is buried in New Calvary Cemetery, Queens, New York, where his gravestone is marked simply, if incorrectly, 'ADOLPH MULLER-URY 1862-1947'. A Requiem Mass was held in St Patrick's Cathedral by Cardinal Spellman before his burial.
After his death his youngest brother Otto Müller travelled to New York to settle his estate. Most of his studio contents, and a good many of his pictures, were sold in two sales at the Plaza Art Galleries, 28 and 29 November 1947 (No. 2809) and 5 December 1947 (No. 2813), including his oil sketch of Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany, and the portrait of Lina Cavalieri. The Frick Art Reference Library, New York, has a copy of both catalogues, where the prices for his pictures are marked; three extra lots were included in the second sale.
Müller-Ury exhibited single pictures and groups of pictures in the following venues (the list is not exhaustive):
1884, Schweizerisches Kunstaustellung, Berne.
1886, SCHAUS’S ART GALLERY, 204, Fifth Avenue, (at Madison Square) New York.
1888, Kunstmuseum, Berne.
1888-89, First National Art Exhibition of Pictures by Swiss Artists (TRAVELLING EXHIBITION): Berne, Herisau, Lucerne, Aargau, Lausanne, Basel, Geneva.
1888, INTERNATIONAL FINE ARTS EXHIBITION, MUNICH.
1889, National Academy of Design, New York.
1889, MYERS & HEDIAN, North Charles Street, Baltimore.
1889, EXPOSITION UNIVERSELLE, Paris.
1890, National Academy of Design, New York.
1890, PARIS SALON - Galerie des Artistes-Modernes, rue de la Paix, 5.
1891, M. KNOEDLER & CO., 170, Fifth Avenue, New York.
1892, Second National Art Exhibition of Pictures by Swiss Artists, Berne.
1894, February 1–15, MESSRS. M. KNOEDLER & CO., 170, Fifth Avenue (corner Twenty-second Street), New York
1894, November 1–22, NATIONAL ACADEMY OF DESIGN, New York, ‘Loan Exhibition of Portraits of Women’
1894, THE CORCORAN GALLERY OF ART, Washington D.C.
1895, M. KNOEDLER & Co., 170, Fifth Avenue (corner Twenty-second Street), New York.
1895, October 31 - December 7, NATIONAL ACADEMY OF DESIGN, New York, ‘Loan Exhibition of Portraits’.
1896, NATIONAL ACADEMY OF DESIGN, New York.
1896, THE CORCORAN GALLERY OF ART, Washington D.C.
1897, March 1–15 - DURAND-RUEL GALLERIES, 389, Fifth Avenue, New York. (One Man Show - following an exhibition by Camille Pissarro and preceding one by Auguste Renoir)
1898, SCHAUS’S ART GALLERY, New York.
1898-99, NATIONAL ACADEMY OF DESIGN, New York, ‘Loan Exhibition of Portraits’.
1900, EXPOSITION UNIVERSELLE, Paris, U.S. Pavilion
1901, January 5–19, C.W. KRAUSHAAR ART GALLERIES, 260, Fifth Avenue (between 28th & 29th Streets), New York (One Man Show)
1901, PAN-AMERICAN EXPOSITION, Buffalo, New York.
1901, M. KNOEDLER & CO., New York.
1901-02, December 1, 1901 - June 1, 1902, SOUTH CAROLINA INTER-STATE AND WEST INDIAN EXPOSITION, Charleston, South Carolina.
1902, THE CORCORAN GALLERY OF ART, Washington D.C.
1902, NATIONAL ARTS CLUB, New York, 'Portraits and Ideal Heads'.
1903, January 5–19, NOE ART GALLERIES, 368, Fifth Avenue (between 34th & 35th Streets), New York.
1904, November 23 - December 3, M. KNOEDLER & CO., 355, Fifth Avenue (corner Thirty-fourth Street), New York. (One Man Show)
1905, THE ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO, Portrait Exhibition
1906, December 3–15, M. KNOEDLER & CO., 355, Fifth Avenue, (corner of Thirty-fourth Street), New York. (One Man Show)
1907, THE LOTOS CLUB, New York.
1907, PARIS SALON.
1908, THE LOTOS CLUB, New York.
1908, January 13–22, M. KNOEDLER & CO., 355, Fifth Avenue, (corner of Thirty-fourth Street), New York. (One Man Show)
1908, Monday, January 27 - Friday, January 31, BENDANN’S ART STORE, BALTIMORE.
1908, Tuesday, February 4 - Wednesday, February 19, THE CORCORAN GALLERY OF ART, WASHINGTON D.C. (One Man Show)
1908, February 1908, McCLEES GALLERIES, 1411, Walnut Street, Philadelphia.
1910, March 22 - April 30, KÖNIGLICHE AKADEMIE DER KÜNSTE ZU BERLIN, ‘Ausstellung Amerikanischer Kunst’ (Hors Catalogue).
1910-11, December 21 - January 3, M. KNOEDLER & CO., 355, Fifth Avenue, New York. (One Man Show)
1912, THE RALSTON GALLERIES, 567, Fifth Avenue, New York.
1913, March 31 - April 12, M. KNOEDLER & CO., 556-558, Fifth Avenue, New York. (One Man Show)
1916, THE RALSTON GALLERIES, 567, Fifth Avenue, New York.
1916, THE LOTOS CLUB, 110, West 57th Street, New York.
1917, HENRY REINHARDT & SON, 565, Fifth Avenue, New York.
1918, January 7–12, HENRY REINHARDT & SON, 565, Fifth Avenue, New York.
1918, February 23–26, THE LOTOS CLUB, 110, West 57th Street, New York.
1918, M. KNOEDLER & CO., 556, Fifth Avenue, New York.
1918, THE RALSTON GALLERY, 567, Fifth Avenue, New York.
1923, GUMP’S, San Francisco.
1925, April 6 - April 18, DUVEEN GALLERIES, 720, Fifth Avenue, New York. (One Man Show)
1933, THE COWIE GALLERY, THE BILTMORE HOTEL, Los Angeles.
1937, April 20 - May 4, WILDENSTEIN & CO., INC., 19, East 64th Street, New York. (One Man Show)
1943, May 5–19, GRAND CENTRAL ART GALLERIES, New York, ‘Portraits of Yesterday and Today.’
1944, March 7 - April 4, WILDENSTEIN GALLERY, New York, ‘Stars of Yesterday & Today’, Section: Contemporary Portraits by Contributing Artists.
1947, April 21 - May 3, FRENCH & COMPANY, 210, East 57th Street, New York. (One Man Show).
1950, June 29 - November 19, NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART, Washington D.C., 'Makers of History in Washington 1800 - 1950'.
1968, NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART, Washington D.C., 'This New Man: A Discourse in Portraits'.
2000, NEWPORT ART MUSEUM, Rhode Island, 'Newportraits'.
2000-2003, GEORGE BUSH PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY AND MUSEUM, College Station, Texas (touring to six other US venues), 'Portraits of the Presidents: The National Portrait Gallery'.
The largest public collections of his works are:
The Historisches Museum von Uri, Altdorf, Switzerland which has ten pictures, including a large allegorical work painted in 1888 called Alpenrose und Edelweiss, and portraits of his father and his uncle (all three donated by him in 1905 when the Museum was first opened).
The Preservation Society of Newport County, Rhode Island, who were given six of the portraits and two etchings by Muller-Ury in the American Heritage Center at the University of Wyoming in Laramie in 2007 to add to the six they already possessed five of which are of the Havemeyer family (this collection included Governor Merriam of St Paul as well as his etchings of railroad builder James J. Hill and Senator Chauncey Depew and was donated to Wyoming by Nicholas M. Turner, husband of the soprano Jessica Dragonette, who at one time owned nearly forty pictures by the artist many bought at his studio sale in 1947). They also acquired from Wyoming the artist's hands modelled by Gertrude Colburn (died 1968).
The National Portrait Gallery in Washington has nine portraits, including President William McKinley, General Henry Clarke Corbin, James J. Hill, the two etchings of James J. Hill and Chauncey Depew, and two oils that the American Heritage Center at the University of Wyoming in Laramie gave them in 2007 from the Dragonette Collection: a Self-portrait and a portrait of steel titan Charles M. Schwab. In 2009 they acquired a drawing of Anaconda Copper Mining Millionaire Marcus Daly.
The New York State Museum at Albany contains six portraits, five of which were in the former New York Chamber of Commerce: Theodore Havemeyer, Oswald Ottendorfer, James Constable, William 'Boyce' Thompson, and Benjamin Altman.
Much of his work remains in private collections or with the descendents of his sitters, and many of the portraits of his most famous sitters are apparently lost. However, his recently rediscovered 1923 portrait of his great friend Sir Joseph Duveen, the art dealer, has been recently widely reproduced, notably on the cover of the 2004 biography of Duveen by Meryle Secrest; it was subsequently sold at TEFAF Maastricht in 2006 for $95,000.
Muller-Ury's third cousin was the American Impressionist artist Hildegarde Muller-Uri (July 5, 1894 – 1990) who had been born in Greenwich Village but became a resident of San Augustine, Florida, after her parents, who were restaurateurs, moved there and opened the Hotel Marion. She studied first at the Breckenridge Art School and elsewhere with DuMond, Olinsky, Lewis, Adams and others. She became a member of the San Augustine art colony, where she taught art, and painted portraits and landscapes in an impressionist style. Her work also includes stained glass, etchings, illustrations, woodblock prints and linoleum cuts of city scenes and historic buildings in Florida. She published a book with twenty-two woodcuts called St. Augustine in Woodcuts. In 1959 she lived at 64 Dolphin Drive, San Augustine.
||This article includes a list of references, related reading or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline citations. (July 2013)|
- National Cyclopedia of American Biography, Vol. 6, 1896, p. 470
- Lyman Horace Weeks, Prominent Families of New York, being an account in biographical form of individuals and families distinguished as representatives of the social, professional and civic life of New York city, 1897, p. 422
- Mitchell C. Harrison (compiler), New York State's Prominent and Progressive Men: An Encyclopaedia of Contemporaneous Biography, Volume 3, New York, 1902, p. 243
- S. E. L. (Leisha), 'A Successful Portrait Painter', in Town & Country, New York, August 22, 1903, pp. 19–21.
- Jerry Cotter, 'Muller-Ury: Portraitist', in The Sign, Volume 27, No. 1, August 1947.
- Geraldine Norman, 'The Artist Time Forgot', in The Independent, London, December 16, 1989.
- Stephen Conrad, 'Re-introducing Adolfo Müller-Ury 1862-1947: The artist, two dealers, four counts and the Kaiser: A hitherto unknown episode in international art history' in The British Art Journal, Volume 4, No. 2, Summer 2003, pp. 57–65.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Gilman, D. C.; Thurston, H. T.; Moore, F., eds. (1905). "article name needed". New International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). New York: Dodd, Mead.