DALY, Marcus

Seated in an armchair, facing to the right, his right hand closed and his left one open. Oil on canvas, possibly signed upper right.

Mineral Museum, Montana Tech of the University of Montana, Butte, Montana.

Mrs. Margaret Price Daly, Hamilton, Montana until 1941; her bequest to The Montana School of Mines, Butte, Montana, now Montana Tech.

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The sitter was born on December 5, 1841 and died on November 12, 1900. He was an Irish-born American businessman, known as one of the ‘Copper Kings’ of Butte, Montana.

The portrait as it hung over the fireplace in the hall of the Daly’s Montana mansion. Courtesy of the Daly Mansion, Hamilton, Montana.The artist evidently made this picture after making the portrait drawing now in the American National Portrait Gallery.


Marcus Daly’s wife 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

Dear Sir

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’

The Montana Standard, Sunday 24th December 1950 says that the mining school was given a portrait by F. Muller Ury signed and dated 1901 in the upper corner by the sitter’s daughter Mrs. James W. Gerard of New York. Its measurements are given there as 60” x 52”.