The sitter was Margaret Augusta Daly (1873-1911) and married a prominent New York banker Dr. Henry Carroll Brown (1874-1958) and later lived in Baltimore. She was a daughter of Marcus Daly, and she had two daughters, Margaret Price Brown (born 1903) and Frances Carroll Brown (born 1908), who was still living in Baltimore in 2001.
The full-length portrait was exhibited by Muller-Ury at a studio tea on April 7, 1902 according to the New York Journal, April 8, 1902.
The sitter’s mother, Margaret Evans Daly, after the death of her husband wrote a bitter-sweet letter of complaint and praise to the artist following commissions for portraits of her two daughters, Margaret and Mary which presumably were made by her husband. Written on black-edged notepaper from 725, Fifth Avenue, New York, the letter (artist’s papers) is a fascinating insight into Gilded Age expectations, artistic failure and success (unfortunately it is undated, but must be 1901):
‘Mr. Muller Ury
I am sorry indeed if my note as you say was a disagreeable surprise to you, and I wish to assure you it was not intended to be disagreeable, our little difference is simply a business affair, and I wish to tell you I had no thought of treating you as you say I did as though you were an adventurer, if you will think it all over, I think you will find that your two last notes to me were very unjust. My under-standing of the matter is this. You asked me to pay you for Mrs. Brown’s portrait that you had not finished and had not been accepted by her which I refused to do. You then sent me bill for the Frame that I also refused to pay and gave you my reasons for so doing. My daughter Mary’s Portrait was paid for almost two years before we had any thing to show for the money, until I took the Portrait which you painted of Mr. Daly which had never been ordered. My daughter Mary’s Portrait you destroyed. You were not asked to do so by any member of the family, you admitted it was a failure, so why blame the Family for all the trouble you had with it. Mr. Daly’s picture I took because it pleased me. I think it extremely good, to me the likeness is about perfect, and I want to tell you what a pleasure it is to me. I told you the other day how good I thought it was and how much everyone who had seen it liked it. Trusting it will not be necessary to write you further on this subject.
I am very sincerely, Margaret P. Daly’
There is an photograph of the picture in its original form by the Ferd Stark Studio, 68 West 58th Street, NY, in the artist’s papers. It must have been cut down some time in the early years of the century, almost certainly by the artist himself after the sitter’s mother complained about problems she was having getting the pictures she had ordered from the artist. In doing so he altered the position of the left hand, so that it no longer followed the line of the dress where it appeared to hang limply.
The Daly mansion in Butte, Montana, which is now a museum, reacquired the smaller frame in 1996 (having been sold with the contents of the mansion in 1986) but not the cut-down and altered picture.