BLAIR, Joan (Later Mrs H. O. Havemeyer Jr.; Later Mrs Jesse Woodhull Overton)

Bust-length, oil on canvas, 30″ x 24″, signed and dated ‘A. Muller-Ury 1937’.

Mrs. Joan Woodhull Overton, 78, Balmville Road, Newburgh, N.Y. 12550, U.S.A. to 1998; By descent.

WILDENSTEIN & CO. INC., 19, East 64th Street, New York, April 20 – May 4, 1937, No. 22.

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A photograph in the artist’s papers inscribed ‘Miss Blair’ on the verso.

The sitter (3 November 1915 – 4 January 1998) was born in Tuxedo Park and was the second daughter of J. Insley Blair Jr (1876-1939) and Natalie Bennett Knowlton (1887-1951), an important collector of Americana, and the first woman of the first rank to do so. Her husband had a railroad and banking fortune. The Blairs lived at Tuxedo Park in a Carrère and Hastings mansion called Blairhame, that was donated to Tuxedo Park School in 1957 by Joan Blair Overton. Her older sister was Natica Blair (1913-1955), later Mrs Screven Lorillard who sadly shot herself after an illness.

This portrait was painted in 1936. Muller-Ury first met her on October 22, 1936 at Tuxedo. Muller-Ury began the portrait on December, 15, 1936 and was working at finishing the picture on December 20, 1936. She became the wife of H.O. Havemeyer Jr. on January 6, 1937. The sitter divorced H.O. Havemeyer Jr., and took the portrait with her. She later remarried in 1955 Dr. Jesse Woodhull Overton (1907-1981) and lived in Newburgh, New York. She had an only son called John, who had four children.