MERRIAM, Mrs William Rush (Laura Hancock)

Three-quarter length seated, dressed presumably in white, with bare arms, a fan in her left hand closed and propping up her hand. Possibly a cabinet to the right.

Present Whereabouts Unknown.

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The sitter was born on 7 July 1850 in Pennsylvania and married William Rush Merriam on October 2, 1873. (In 1933, she lived at Palm Beach, Florida according to the Washington D.C. Social Register.) She died on 2 November 1943 at La Jolla, California. 

She had five children: John Hancock Merriam (1874-1962), Mabel DeLano Merriam (later Mrs John Tyler Wheelwright, 1876-1962, of Washington DC), William Hancock Merriam (1879-1970), Amherst Wilder Merriam (1888-1891) and Laura Beatrice Merriam (later Mrs James Freeman Curtis of Washington DC, and Mrs John Messick Gross, of Washington DC, 1892-1973).

Painted in 1892 perhaps. A pair of portraits, which were presumably of she and her husband the Republican governor, were exhibited at Stevens and Robertson, St. Paul, according to the Pioneer Press October 27, 1892.

In July 1895 the New York Mercury reported that Muller-Ury had just been in St. Paul painting the portraits of Governor and Mrs. Merriam. It may be that these were two more portraits and not the earlier pair which were mentioned in The American University Magazine, May 1895, Vol. II, No. 1.

The Star, Kansas City, May 29, 1899, said that ‘…another much admired work…is a portrait of Mrs. William R. Merriam, which was one of the few things saved when Governor Merriam’s house in St. Paul burned a year or two ago.’