Thursday, January 06, 2011

Windmuller sits for a portrait

Almost a year ago I wrote a blog post on portraits of Louis Windmuller. It describes a painting by Oliver H. Perry, which the Reform Club commissioned in 1900. Thanks to a kind and generous man named Jack Beuschel I now possess this portrait. He contacted me by email explaining that he'd seen blog posts of mine about Windmuller, and, as it happened, he had a portrait of him. Not long after, he had the work carefully packaged and delivered to my address and it now sits in my living room awaiting a frame and some conservator's care.[1] I and my family are very grateful to Jack and extend him heartfelt thanks. He explained that a neighbor had given the painting to his parents in Queens Village, New York, in 1950. The neighbor, whose family name Jack remembers as Booth, obtained it via a connection with either the Legal Aid Society or the Salvation Army. Windmuller was for many years treasurer of the Legal Aid Society so that's the likely connection.

Here's an item in the New York Times which describes the painting when first put on view a bit more than 110 years ago.

{The Week in Art, New York Times, December 8, 1900}

This shows the inscription on the back of the canvas.

The artist, Oliver H. Perry, was a grandson of the famous Commodore and great-grandson of Benjamin Franklin. Here's a photo of him.

{Oliver Hazard Perry, photograph taken between 1872 and 1887 by an unknown photographer; source: Archives of American Art}

Perry was almost an exact contemporary of Windmuller, the former born 1843, the latter 1835, and both dying in 1913.

{Military Funeral for Oliver H. Perry, Evening Telegram, April 13, 1913}

As this report states, Perry was quiet and unostentatious. Perhaps for this reason it's difficult to find biographic details about his life.

{Perry Estate Left to Wife Now Dead, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, October 29, 1913}

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle for April 28, 1913, notes that O.H. Perry's widow, Maria L. Moore, died April 27, 1913. The funeral was at St. James' Church, Newtown.

There's an entry for him in a Perry genealogy: Oliver Hazard Perry and the Oliver Hazard Perry papers, 1856-1887 are in the Smithsonian Institution here in Washington, DC.

In the Spring of 1910, Perry's son John Moore Perry married into one of the oldest and most respected families in all New York.[2] In reporting the couple's engagement, New York Times mentioned something of the two families' lineages: Rikers and Moores, as well as Leveriches and Perrys, all but the last having ancient roots in the Newtown area of New York, and New Netherland before it.

{Society at Home and Abroad, New York Times, December 12, 1909}

Here's the beginning of a long account of the affair which appeared in the Newtown Register. The piece mentions many of the old Newtown families who were present including a Mr. William Thorne and a Mrs. William Thorne. They're not listed together and so may not be man and wife, but both are very likely part of the great Long Island Thorne family from which Louis Windmuller's wife descended. The report doesn't list the Windmullers' presence at the wedding, but it leaves out lots of guests' names so they may have been there. Windmuller was, after all, a friend of the groom's father, a fellow member of the Reform Club, and a resident of a neighboring community.[3]

{Perry-Leverich Nuptials, Newtown Register, May 26, 1910}

This shows the homestead of the Leverich family in Newtown, built about 1670.

{The Leverich Family Homestead - south side of Trains Meadow Road -Newtown, Queens County, Long Island, New York - before 1909. Built by 2-Caleb Leverich about 1670. Caleb's grandson 4-John Leverich built an addition to the homestead in 1732. This eastern view is now 35th Road from 70th Street Image and descriptive caption from the collection of Catherine Gregory of Woodside, N.Y. Used with permission. Mrs. Gregory is the author of Woodside, Queens County, New York: A Historical Perspective 1652-1994. found on}



[1] The painting is oil on canvas and measures 65 by 81 cm.

[2] Here are some of my earlier blog posts which tell of the Leverich family: [3] Windmuller lived in Woodside and Perry in Elmhurst, somewhat less than two miles distant.


Gil Gutierrez said...

I am an art dealer and recently acquired a portrait of a seated man signed by William Merrit Chase, looking at the catalog issued by Ronal G. Pisano under num. 348 I found a description of a similar painting titled Louis Windmuller
Can someone hep me confirming this is accurate or not

Jeff said...

Gil: I've never seen the Chase portrait and, as you know, descriptions of it are scant. Basically what I know about it I put in an old blog post:

It's only a guess, but I suspect the Chase portrait was copied for use in a couple of biographical directories that have entries on Windmuller. This is my candidate. It's from the National cyclopaedia of American Biography, 1895:

You've seen the Pisano record --
Louis Windmuller, (painting)
Painter: Chase, William Merritt 1849-1916
Subject: Windmuller, Louis
Medium: Oil on canvas
Type: Paintings
Owner/Location: Unlocated
Date: 1902
Topic: Portrait male--Knee length
Control number: IAP 89780295
Notes: Pisano, Ronald G., "The complete catalogue of known and documented work by William Merritt Chase (1849-1916); volume 2. Portraits in oil," New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006, no. OP348
Data Source: Art Inventories Catalog, Smithsonian American Art Museums

The painting is also mentioned in:
American Art News, Vol. 8, no. 14Source: American Art News, Vol. 8, No. 14 (Jan. 15, 1910), pp. 1-8Published

and in:
William M. Chase, His Retrospective Exhibition, The Sun, January 16, 1910

David said...

I wonder if the chamber of commerce still has the one mentioned here -