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Source: St. Louis Republic
Source type: newspaper
Document type: article
Document title: “Revised National Picture of President McKinley”
Author(s): anonymous
City of publication: St. Louis, Missouri
Date of publication: 12 July 1903
Volume number: 96
Issue number: 12
Part/Section: magazine section
Pagination: [5]

“Revised National Picture of President McKinley.” St. Louis Republic 12 July 1903 v96n12: mag. sect., p. [5].
full text
William McKinley (paintings); McKinley memorialization; Harriet Anderson Stubbs Murphy; Harriet Anderson Stubbs Murphy (public statements).
Named persons
William R. Day; Marcus Hanna; William McKinley; Harriet Anderson Stubbs Murphy; John Tyler.
The identity of Professor Lawrence (below) cannot be determined. Fairman’s Art and Artists of the Capitol of the United States of America (1927) identifies Murphy as being “a pupil of Lorenz and William Morgan.” Possibly then Lawrence is an erroneous reference to Richard Lorenz.

It cannot be determined which President Harrison is being referred to below.

The article is accompanied on the same page with two photographs, captioned as follows (respectively): “Murphy Portrait of the Late President as It Was Originally;” “As It Is Since Slight Alterations Were Made.”


Revised National Picture of President McKinley


Woman Artist Painted Portrait That Is to Hang in the White House.

     The official portrait of President McKinley, recently hung in the White House, is the work of an American woman.
     Among the portrait[s] of all the Pre[s]ident[s] thus displayed, it is the first to hav[e] been executed by a woman, nor is it by any means the least interesting or meritorious.
     The appropriation of $2,500 by Congress for [a] portrait of the late President naturally [e]xcited unusual interest [a]mong artists.
     Many well-known artistic names wer[e] numbered among the contestants.
     Th[e] portrait finally chosen among many, [a]fter careful artistic consideration, is by Mrs. W. D. Murphy of New York City.
     In her art education and experience, [a]nd in her sympathies, in everything, in [s]hort, but her birth, she is an American.
     Sh[e] was born in England, coming to America when a mer[e] child.
     Her hom[e] was at first in Canad[a], whence [s]he was sent to New York to further her [a]rtistic education. Her talent was evident very early, attracting considerable attention.
     Mrs. Murphy cannot remember, sh[e] says, when she began to draw. As a child she was [a]lways drawing, so that her talent [s]eem[s] to antedat[e] her earliest recollection.


     Her artistic training and experienc[e] were had in the East.
     In addition to attending th[e] schools sh[e] h[a]d the advantage of private instructors, [a]mong them Professor Lawrence of Munich.
     She has never returned to Europe sinc[e] [he]r leaving England. The art galleries and [e]xhibitions in New York, she says, hav[e] b[e]en her chief source of instruction and in[s]piration.
     She attends them all regularly, sitting for hours before the canvases to study their [se]cret[s].
     It is, of course, particularly remarkabl[e] that thus handicapped Mrs. Murphy’s portrait of President McKinley should hav[e] been chosen from among the contributions of many of wider opportunity.
     Th[e] present portrait was painted from photographs. Not only had Mrs. Murphy no sitting, but sh[e] had never seen President McKinley.
     Th[e] accepted portrait is life size and represents the late President holding his glasses in his left hand and a sheet of paper in the right, a characteristic attitude of Mr. McKinley when talking.
     His closest friends, Senator Hanna and Judge Day, passed upon the portrait and declared it to be an excellent likeness, the best they had seen of him, a characteristic and spirited portraiture of the man, expressing the full power, benevolence and impressiveness of President McKinley’s remarkable countenance.


     On several occasions the portrait has been [a] model for sculptors desiring to execut[e] [s]tatues of McKinley.
     The portrait has just been hung in the Colonial Hall of the White House at the side of the large mirrors, in one of the places formerly occupied by the portraits of President Harrison and President Tyler.
     When the painting was completed it wa[s] taken [f]rom Mrs. Murphy’s studio and placed in the Corcoran Art Gallery, in Washington, wher[e] it attracted a great deal of attention.
     “By whom was it painted?” was constantly being asked. Th[e] interest manifested in it showed more than anything else the public appreciation of the work.
     When $2,500 was appropriated by Congress for the purchase of a portrait of the late President, Mrs. Murphy submitted her work.
     Th[e] judge[s] were confronted with work from th[e] brushes of men whose reputation in the world of art is unimpeachable.
     The judges wer[e] selected as the most competent men in the country to judg[e] of th[e] merits of the [p]ortrait.
     The competitor[s] were somewhat taken aback when the announcement was made that the work of a woman had won, in spite of the ancient tradition that a woman must always stay in the background of art when in com[p]etition with men.
     When they saw the accepted portrait their doubts were silenced and they expressed the utmost satisfaction in the selection.


     “I appreciate the honor of contributing to [s]o famous a collection,” said Mrs. Murphy in speaking of her success. “That my portrait of President McKinley should hav[e] been chosen means, of course, that not alon[e] th[e] art critics, but the intimate friends of the late President, were pleased with my effort.
     “This means much to me. I lik[e] to think that I have caught the character of th[e] man, the subtle something which finds expression in th[e] bearing and expression of my model.
     “The word model is perhaps misleading. I never saw President McKinley in my life.
     “In painting his portrait, therefore, I was obliged to work solely from photographs, aided by th[e] impression I had gathered of his personality.
     “They tell me that I hav[e] been happy in catching this latter, and I can only say I am very glad.
     “Th[e] portrait as it now hangs in the halls of the White House differs in no essential from the original sketch submitted by m[e] in th[e] competition.
     “Th[e] fac[e] and figure, in fact, remain exactly as I first conceived them and placed them upon th[e] canvas. Th[e] only alterations I may call trifling, although I cheerfully substituted them.
     “When Senator Hanna and Justic[e] Day saw th[e] McKinley portrait the first suggestion mad[e] was that the flag which formed part of th[e] background on the painting b[e] removed and a plain dark ton[e] substituted.
     “Th[e] reasons for the chang[e] wer[e] very characteristic. It was Senator Hanna who [e]xplained: ‘President McKinley, you know, had no patent on th[e] American flag.’ Among all the portraits of the Presidents in th[e] Whit[e] House I found that th[e] flag had been omitted.
     “A scroll of paper was also placed in on[e] hand, at the Senator’s suggestion. Th[e] only other alteration was to slightly reduce th[e] waist line [sic]. Th[e] President’s friends who examined the portrait agreed that th[e] figur[e] as I had drawn it was true to life.
     “Th[e] face and general expression as I had reproduced it hav[e] been much praised by several of President McKinley’s closest [friends.]”



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