Painters: Flora Lion to Sir William Newenham Montague Orpen

Flora Lion, RIO [1876-1958]

A painter of portraits, figure subject and landscapes. She studied in London and Paris and began to exhibit at the Royal Academy in 1900 with The Lady of Shalott. She was elected to Royal Institute of Oil Painters 1909. One of four sisters, three of them dress-makers, she married in 1915 and her husband was said to have adopted her name, though her entry in Who's who in art says she married a Ralph Lion.

Malcolm C Salaman, ‘Modern Woodcuts’ in The Studio (1919) wrote 'Interesting artistic personalities are the subject of Miss [sic] Flora Lion’s vivid portraits, exemplified by a characteristic presentment of that gifted actress, Miss Irene Vanbrugh’. Her portrait My mother (1909) is in the Tate.

She also exhibited at the London Fine Art Society, 1937 and at Knoedler’s in 1940, and here she is at work, c1920.


Ernest Martin Joseph, CBE, FRIBA [1877-1960]

I know of this portrait from an undated photo of his widow unveiling it. The plaque under it reads 'In grateful remembrance of the late Ernest M Joseph, CBE (1877-1960), founder and lifelong benefactor of the Old Boys' Club. He lived to serve the cause of youth'.

According to The Times, 23 Apr 1953:

Long service to the youth of the Jewish community was recognised yesterday when the Dowager Lady Swaythling, president of the Jewish Lads’ Brigade, presented to Mr Ernest Joseph his portrait, which Mrs Flora Lion had been commissioned to paint by his friends in the brigade.

Mr Joseph was commissioned in the Jewish Lads’ Brigade in 1898, a year after the organization was founded by Colonel Albert Goldsmidt. He was chief staff officer 1926-37, deputy commandant 1937-50, and in 1952 became honorary colonel commandant.

Speakers paid tribute to Mr Joseph’s years of unfailing work for and leadership of the tens of thousands of boys who have passed through the brigade. His professional services as honorary architect, it was stated, had also been a constant help.

I don't think I ever saw it and wonder if his wife emulated Lady Churchill's destruction of the Sutherland portrait of Sir Winston in 1956.

Philip Homan Miller, ARHA [fl 1877, d 1928]

An Irish painter of genre, portraits and literary subjects, who exhibited from 1877-1903, at the RA from 1879-1903 and elsewhere. Titles in the RA included A Punjab water bottle, The old armchair and Mariana in the moated grange, 1903. He became ARHA in 1890. His wife Sophia was also a painter.

Sarah Joseph [née Edwards, 1846-1936]

The wife of Lazarus Joseph, The family belief is that she was Ulster Protestant, but the birth certificate shows her birthplace to be in Petticoat Lane, so she was more likely Jewish, even if her portraitist was from Londonderry.

It is inscribed, faintly, 'Taken from life, 1892 P H Miller'.

Adolfo Müller-Ury (1862-1947)

He was born Felice Adolfo Müller on 29 March 1862 at Airolo, Canton Ticino, Switzerland, into a prominent family whose lineage descended from Alfred the Great, Charlemagne and Doge Pietro Orseolo of Venice. His father was Presiding Judge of the Cantonal Courts, and his mother Genovefa Lombardi was the daughter of Felice Lombardi, Director of the Hospice on the St Gotthard Pass. Adolfo was sixth of nineteen children.

After attending school in the Ticino, and in Sarnen, he was encouraged by the sculptor Vincenzo Vela to study painting under the Stans painter, Melchior Paul von Deschwanden. On 25 April 1881 he entered the Munich Academy where he stayed 18 months. He later claimed to have studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Between Munich and Paris he spent nearly two years (1882–84) in Rome, studying and copying Old Masters, and where he apparently painted Cardinals Joseph Hergenröther and Gustav Adolf Hohenlohe who were acquaintances of his uncle Josef. It is sometimes alleged he painted Pope Leo XIII at this time.

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. Luckily, his talent for portraiture was noticed by the St Paul railroad builder James J Hill, who commissioned many pictures of himself, his family, his friends and business associates.

For some years he commuted between New York and Europe, but after the success of his portraits of Senator Chauncey M Depew in 1890 and Mrs Theodore Havemeyer in 1891, in 1892 he applied for American citizenship. It was at this time that he began to be dubbed ‘Painter to the Four Hundred’, referring the elite of New York society in whose circles he socialized.

In 1903 he was one of a group of artists who invested in a new studio building, the Atelier Building, 33 West 67th Street, New York: he moved into the studio in 1904 and remained there until 1947.

In March 1922 he travelled with Sir Joseph Duveen to California, when Duveen delivered to collector Henry E Huntington Gainsborough’s picture The Blue Boy. Duveen had told the artist Huntington would commission a portrait of himself. He did not. However, after painting Archbishop Hanna of San Francisco in 1923 he erected a studio near Huntington’s estate in San Marino in 1924-25. Here he painted Huntington’s granddaughter Mary Brockway Metcalf, the diplomat Henry Mauris Robinson, Anita Baldwin (daughter of ‘Lucky Baldwin’ of Arcadia), Maurice DeMond (founder of the Breakfast Club then in Griffiths Park), and President Rufus Von KleinSmid (1931) of the University of Southern California. In 1930 he painted Miss Gladys Quarré (later Gladys Quarré Knapp). He abandoned the studio on 3 September 1933 and sold it in January 1947.

After his return from California he settled back in New York. He painted Pope Pius XII during his visit to the United States when still Cardinal Pacelli (1936, finished 1939), and painted his friend Cardinal Spellman twice in 1940, and again in 1942. In 1940 he painted the first of several portraits of soprano Jessica Dragonette.

Of perhaps 2,000 portraits he completed in his life perhaps 200 have been identified, setting a remarkable challenge to researcher in this field. A selection is listed here, of which some 50 are marked as missing.

He died, apparently of cancer, on 6 July 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’.

The reproduction of Louise Clisby Wise’s portrait comes from the artist’s papers at the Adolfo Muller-Ury Stiftung, Hospental, Switzerland, photograph courtesy of Stephen Conrad, London. This text is edited from his entry in Wikipedia.

Louise Clisby Wise, engaged to Laurence Lewis (1895-1937)

She was born in Macon, Georgia on 28 June 1895 and died in Overlook Hospital, Summit, New Jersey after a heart attack, on 28 May 1937. Her first husband, was Lawrence Lewis, son of Mr & Mrs Thornton Lewis of Cincinnati, whom she married on 3 May 1917 in New Hanover County, in the Carolinas, and by whom she had two children, Lawrence Lewis Jr and Mary Lily Flagler Lewis. They divorced in 1926. She later twice remarried.

She was the niece of Mrs Robert Worth Bingham of Palm Beach, Florida. In 1917, one year after her marriage, Mrs. Bingham died (said to be in suspicious circumstances, see David Leon Chandler, The Binghams of Louisville, New York, 1987), leaving her niece $40-60 million and amongst much real estate, her mansion at Palm Beach, Whitehall.  This had been built for Mary Worth by Henry Flagler as a wedding present. It became the Henry Morrison Flagler Museum in 1960.

The portrait may well have descended to the estates of either of her two daughters by her first marriage.

The artist is shown with this portrait in Orphan of the month for August 2011.


(Frank) Waldo Murray [fl1915-1958]

Perhaps the briefest of my biographies. He taught Fine Arts at Scott Carbee Art School in Boston, and studied with John Singer Sargent in the early 20th century: he had a studio at 31 Tite Street, Chelsea, with JSS at 33. He exhibited at the Panama Pacific Exhibition of 1915. Reviewing the National Academy Exhibition in 1921 the New York Times described a ‘crisp Sargentesque portrait of Robert Fowler by Waldo Murray, and for the sake of contrast, to the portrait of Clare Sheridan by Emil Fuchs, in which the artist seems to have been unaccustomedly timid over the magnificent throat of his sitter, a Doric column of a throat which in his version shrinks to a neck’! Despite the NYT's praise I have not been able to find any references to him in any of the standard reference works, so perhaps he is the minor artist's minor artist.

Elkin Salaman [1870-1919]

The reproduction of this portrait was the best possible due to its glazing and the ambient lighting.


Sir William Quiller Orchardson RA, DCL, HRSA, PSPP [1832-1910]

Orchardson seems another artist who was too well-known to need a biography; I shall mention only that he became a friend of the Joseph family [described in the hagiography by his daughter Hilda Orchardson Gray].


The Joseph family. The scene is the family home in Hyde Park Gardens in 1890; with Sam Joseph are his wife Emma and their daughters Nellie, Edith and Laura, in Sam’s private gallery. It is one of only two ‘landscape’ portrait in this collection and can be seen in colour here: I’d show it colour here but it would cost £90 pa. When it was for sale in 2007 it failed to reach its £8-12,000 estimate.

Orchardson’s daughter wrote of Sam:

‘Mr Joseph had a little gallery, and while he was ill one of his great pleasures was to sit there with his wife and discuss the pictures. After he became blind he continued this habit, and one day he said to Orchardson that the gallery was not complete without a work from his brush—the portraits of Mrs Joseph and “The Joseph familywere hung in the drawing-room–and he wanted something with flowers in it.

My father was deeply touched by this trust in his skill, this proof of friendship, and painted “In the conservatory”. When I saw it in the studio I remarked on the sadness of painting for a blind man, and then added some shy words in praise of the exquisite beauty of the little picture, and my Father answered:

‘“Yes, most sad, and, of course, one painted one’s best just because he would never see it. I painted that with my heart’s blood. But I think that he knows my work well, perhaps he will see it quite clearly in his mind’s eye, with his wife’s detailed description, and her hand guiding his over the picture as she always does”.’


Emma Joseph [née Heilbut 1852-     ]

This is Emma Joseph, as in the family group above, rather than my grandmother Emma Joseph …

Touchingly Sam wrote to Orchardson:

29 Hyde Park Gardens

April 26th, 1887

My Dear Mr Orchardson,

In enclosing herewith cheque for my wife’s portrait, I must acknowledge myself still your debtor for the privilege of possessing so splendid an example of your handiwork. May I also add the expression of the hope that the friendship inaugurated by the painting of the picture may endure as long as the pleasure which its possession will afford me. I say so long, for I know that will be to the end of my days. My wife joins me in kindest regards to you and Mrs Orchardson and hoping soon to see you. Believe me.

Yours very truly,

[Dictated when blind] Samuel Joseph

Sir William Newenham Montague Orpen [1878–1931]

Another member of Michel Salaman’s cohort at the Slade - with Augustus John he founded the Chelsea Art School in 1903.


Ethel Phoebe de Pass [née Salaman, 1869-1910]

Oil on canvas, 101 x 81 cm.

Of this work all I know is that it was for sale at Sothebys, London, on 21 May 1999; and was dedicated to Michel Salaman in memory of early days. With an estimated hammer price of £30-40,000 it failed to sell and so remains somewhere in the extended family.

A photo is used in its place.


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