DEPEW, Senator Chauncey M. (Drawing for Etching, 1890)

Head and shoulders, facing the viewer, charcoal and pastel, on thin paper, c. 21″ x 17″ (53.5 cm x 42.5 cm), the image c. 19″ x 14.1/2″ (49 cm x 37 cm), signed and dated upper right ‘A. Muller-Ury 1890’.

Adolfo Muller-Ury Stiftung, Hospental, Switzerland

The Epoch, New York, Vol. IX, No. 231, 10 July 1891, p. 361,

The sitter was a United States Senator, President and Board Chairman of the New York Central Railroad, and notable Public Speaker. Son of Isaac Depew (d. 1869), shipowner and merchant, and Martha Mitchell Depew (d. 1872). Graduated Yale University in 1856, he was admitted to the bar in 1858. Served in the New York state legislature and elected New York’s secretary of state in 1863. Depew joined the New York Central Railroad in 1866 at the invitation of ‘Commodore’ Cornelius Vanderbilt (1794-1877), advancing to the presidency in 1885. In 1899, at the age of sixty-five, he embarked on a twelve-year tenure in the United States Senate, but, until the end of his life, remained Chairman of the Board of the New York Central. In 1871 Depew married Elsie A. Hegeman (died 1893), with whom he had one son, Chauncey M. Depew, Jr. (1872-1931). He married secondly May Palmer (d. 1940) in 1901; they had no children. A leading business and political figure Depew was considered the most distinguished public speaker in America; in 1886 he delivered the principal address at the dedication of the Statue of Liberty; six years later he was chosen to speak at the laying of the cornerstone of Grant’s Tomb; and, in 1892 he presented the dedicatory oration at the Chicago World’s Fair. At the age of ninety-one, in 1925, his annual birthday speech was broadcast on the radio. He was known of “the most recognized living American, with the exception of the President of the United States.” He died in 1928 at the age of ninety-four.

The drawing for the etching issued in 1890. The Epoch, New York, Vol. IX, No. 231, 10 July 1891, p. 361, specifically mentions a portrait drawing of Depew, saying it was ‘reproduced in etching and published by Knoedler.’ There is no evidence that Knoedler were involved in the publication of the etching, but they may have distributed it for the artist.