LEISHMAN, Miss Martha [Marthe] (Countess Gontaut-Biron; Mrs. James Hazen Hyde) (1899)

Present Whereabouts Unknown.

The New York Times, May 23, 1899
Brooklyn Citizen, May 28, 1899
The New York World, October 22, 1899

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The sitter was the daughter of John G. A. Leishman (1857-1924) United States Minister to Switzerland who was a business partner of Andrew Carnegie in 1898. In the early years of the twentieth-century he was President of the Carnegie Steel Company, in 1900 the Minister to Turkey, later Ambassador to Turkey, in 1909 Ambassador to Italy and in 1911 United States Ambassador to Germany; he retired in 1913.  Marthe Leishman was married in 1904 to Count Louis de Gontaut-Biron, a marriage reported to have been arranged by a Paris lawyer for a fee.  They were negotiating in Paris for a divorce when the Count died in 1907 and the lawyer brought a civil action for his payment.  Marthe Leishman later married James Hazen Hyde, and at this second marriage (on 25 November 1913) was given away by her younger sister Nancy’s first husband Karl Rudolf, 13th Duke of Croy, Duke of Arenburg, Duke of Meppen and Prince of Recklinghausen (1889-1974).  They had one son, Henry Hyde. Mr. Hyde died in 1997 and was survived by his wife of 36 years, Liza Piper Hyde; two daughters from an earlier marriage, Lorna Hyde de Wangen, later Graev, of Manhattan and Isabel Hyde Jasinowski, later Schrimpf, of Washington; two stepdaughters, Anastasia Piper of Manhattan and Kelly Piper of Beverly Hills, California; three grandchildren, and three step-grandchildren. His first marriage, to the late Marie de la Grange Hyde, ended in divorce.

I am grateful to Richard Jay Hutto for assistance with this entry.

The New York Times, May 23, 1899, and the Brooklyn Citizen, New York, May 28, 1899 say he has just arrived in England and will paint her portrait. The New York World, October 22, 1899 mentions it was completed. It is possible that Muller-Ury painted Miss Leishman again in the Summer of 1899 for in a letter to James J. Hill, written from his studio in Pembroke Gardens, Kensington, London on July 23, 1899 (Hill Papers: James J. Hill Reference Library, St. Paul) he mentions that he is ‘…going to Switzerland where I will paint one portrait & then return for few weeks to London…’

Further Notes:

According to Town Topics, September 28, 1899, a portrait of Miss Leishman was exhibited at the Royal Academy in London in the spring of 1899. The Post, Pittsburgh, October 1, 1899) repeats this information. The picture is not listed in the Royal Academy’s records, and the date of the supposed execution of the second portrait is too late in the year for any picture to have been exhibited ‘in the Spring’.


A bust-length portrait of this subject was exhibited at the KRAUSHAAR ART GALLERIES, 260 Fifth Avenue (between 28th & 29th Streets), New York, January 5 – 19, 1901, but it’s unclear if it was the 1898 or even the 1899 picture.

Bibliography: Post, Denver, Colorado, January 20, 1901; Art Interchange, February 1901

The Post, Denver, January 20, 1901, says that, ‘…There is much color in this picture. Miss Leishman also wears a large hat of some light delicately tinted material that matches well with her dainty ball costume. The peculiarly happy effect is in the expression, for, turn which way you will, it is absolutely impossible to evade her charming smile.’